Project Management: Agile and Waterfall Explained

By Karim Radwan, CAIA, PMP

Since the Agile Manifesto was written in 2001 by a group of software practitioners, Agile approaches have been taking over the project management scene at a steady pace.

Some say Agile is a mindset, not a methodology. Others believe Agile is the silver bullet to solve any project management challenge, while doubters do not want to hear about Agile at all.

Adding to the confusion, there is no shortage of technical papers elaborating on the various methodologies. Throw in the rich taxonomy of terms such as Waterfall, Lean, Agile, Scrum, XP, Sprints, phases, increments, and releases, and it’s easy to get lost in the terminology.

This article aims to provide clarity on the key attributes and applications of Agile and Traditional Project Management methods using simple examples. We’ll use a fictitious but realistic journey of a young couple, but let us first clarify key project management terminology.

What’s the Big Picture?

As stated in The Agile Practice Guide published by the Project Managements Institute (PMI) and Agile Alliance, Agile is a blanket term for many approaches as illustrated below:

Figure 1: Agile is a blanket term encompassing several methodologies: Scrum, ScrumBan, Crystal, Agile Unified Process (AUP), Extreme Programming (XP), Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Process (DSDM).  Source: The Agile Practice Guide, PMI and Agile Alliance

In this article, we will refer to Agile approach as a generic term, as we are not discussing a specific approach such as Scrum or Extreme Programming (XP).

Now let’s see how our couple manages a life project and valuable lessons we can learn.

Waterfall in Practice

Owen and Ava are a newly married couple who are planning to build their dream house. Many steps must be completed before they can eventually move in. The ground needs to be dug out, foundations laid and levelled, walls built, electric cables pulled throughout the house, windows installed, flooring and tiles fitted, and more. The interior will need to be meticulously designed and furnished to their taste.

To tackle this herculean challenge, the couple hires an architect, Denise who develops a detailed plan containing the specifications for every area of the house. The couple formally accepts the plan, and Denise provides a schedule with dates corresponding to each milestone, from the first day of digging to the last day on which they will receive the keys to their house.

The expected outcome of this work is crystal clear. Denise has built similar houses before, and our couple knows what the house will look like and the functionalities of each room.

Architects generally stick to the plan as far as the law of physics allow. Changes are mostly unwelcome. The couple would certainly not appreciate a missing room, or the power sockets incorrectly installed. Similarly, the architect would not appreciate if major changes are made, midway.

There is also a clear sequence for the different steps that will take place. Foundations must be set before building walls, walls are needed before ceilings, ceilings are needed before you can hang lamps, and so forth.

In summary, the architect’s performance is mainly judged by their ability to deliver exactly according to plan in terms of schedule, scope, and cost. If the couple receives a house that is in line with the architect’s plan, by the agreed upon date and without having to pay additional money, they will be delighted.

What is Traditional (Waterfall) Project Management?

Projects that have a clear outcome using tested and proven technologies and techniques usually follow traditional project management methodologies are mainly labelled as Waterfall (also named predictive or traditional methods).

As indicated by its name, Traditional or Waterfall project management approach divides projects in a waterfall sequence of phases. A phase usually ends before the next one starts, and the sequence is traditionally 5 Phases: Initiation, Planning, Implementation, Controlling, and Closing.

Figure 2: The Traditional (Waterfall) Project Management approach has five phases, as defined by Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

In our example, building the house followed by the Traditional (Waterfall) Project Management approach, and consisted of the below key activities:

Initiation: Our couple (the Sponsor) is giving the architect (Project Manager) the authority to work on the project by signing a project document (the Project Charter) outlining the expectations in terms of scope, budget, schedule, and stakeholders.

Planning: Creating the technical drawings, 3D renderings, detailed budget, and schedule that will enable the project’s realization.

Executing: Carrying out the actual work necessary to build the house.

Controlling: Ensuring that the work being carried out is not deviating from the plan elaborated during the planning phase. For example, measuring that the walls are the correct height and that the paint applied is using the right color pantone.

Closing: Hurray! The house (project) is completed! The couple will sign a document or Certificate of Completion to confirm acceptance of the work. The architect will collect the lessons learned during the project to share with their teams to avoid repeating mistakes in the future.

The sequence of phases is chronological and only happens one time.

The couple only visited the building site a few times during the build and the house was officially handed over on time to their greatest delight. They can now focus on the furnishing and interior design of their home. For this project, they decide to hire Kelly, a seasoned interior decorator.

Agile in Practice

The couple tells Kelly, the interior decorator, they would like something similar to Owen’s colleague’s house. They agree on an overall look and feel and entrust Kelly to do miracles. The work should be done by the time they come back from their honeymoon.

Kelly worked hard and sure enough she delivered on her promise. The entire house interior was modelled to what she believed to match their taste.

When the couple returned, they were horrified! The bar looked humongous in their living room, the style of the furniture was in total discord with the kitchen, the paint seemed to not match the color swatches they chose. The couple was fuming and the only reply they got as, “But this is what you asked!” Which in essence was true.

So why did the interior design end in absolute catastrophe, while the build went according to plan? Was the architect more skilled than the interior designer? Should the couple and the interior designer have spent more time planning?

The main issue is the methodology used was not well-suited for the project type. Unlike the house build, the interior design’s expected project outcome was unclear. The couple themselves were also not skilled in interior design; they did not have the best creative or knowledge of design trends and styles. Doing this interior design work in one bulk, was thus, very risky. An Agile approach would be more appropriate for the interior design.

If you have ever moved to a new place, chances are you took an Agile approach. You likely made decisions incrementally—for example, buying the sofa first, then a dining table. You tried samples of paint on the wall before deciding on the color. You hung paintings last to be able to see where they best fit.

In project management, it is advised to use an incremental approach for such projects. Instead of planning and delivering one very large chunk of work at once, you progress by increments, and just like an artist, you create  your masterpiece, day by day, stroke by stroke.

With an Agile approach, it is best to take decisions at the last possible moment when you benefit from the maximum information. For example, you decide what carpet you will buy when you finish furnishing the living room. Or you purchase a console before choosing the mirror you will place on top of it, instead of purchasing all the living room items at once.

In the case of our couple, they would likely perceive more value in seeing the paint first rather than the silicon joints that will be used. So, paint would be included in the early Sprints before the silicon joints.

What is Agile Project Management?

Contrary to Waterfall methodologies where all tasks are planned, implemented, controlled, and eventually accepted all at once, Agile Project Management is a collection of short iterations of equal duration (usually 2-4 weeks) that are referred to as Sprints. Sprints are smaller chunks of work that are planned, implemented, and controlled many times throughout the project.

Sprints are broken down even further into tasks, also known as User Stories, that are prioritized based on value and risk. Throughout the Sprint, progress on these tasks is monitored through Daily Standup Meetings. They are called Standup Meetings as their length should not exceed 15 minutes and they are often held while standing to ensure they are kept short. During these meetings, each team member shares what has been done the previous day, what will be done today, and what are the eventual roadblocks to the progress.

At the end of the Sprint, the work completed is demonstrated during a Sprint Review in front of the client for feedback and/or acceptance.

An Agile approach allows for frequent feedback, changes to the initial plan, and drastically reduces misunderstandings with the client. Agile approaches are most commonly used to deliver IT projects. Generally, IT projects can be broken down into small functionalities that do not need to follow a specific order.

The priority of tasks is usually determined by the value each task represents for the client. Tasks with high risk are also prioritized. The higher the perceived value by the client, the earlier it is implemented.

Figure 3: An Agile project approach has numerous sprints

In our example, painting the living room could have been a User Story included in Sprint 1.  They could have approved it or requested for some changes such as a less glossy paint during the Sprint Review at the end of the Sprint. This drastically limits rework and the associated costs.

Imagine if the couple in our example decides to change the paint color once the entire house has been painted. It would be better to say early in the project of the change in color. Agile practitioners say it is good to fail fast. Failing fast allows you to rectify the trajectory early in the process, before too much time, effort, and cost have been invested.

Hybrid in Practice

Some projects require a hybrid approach of Traditional (Waterfall) and Agile.

What is Hybrid Project Management?

Hybrid projects typically apply to initiatives where the deliverables themselves are hybrid. A hybrid project approach can be used in virtually all industries.

For example, a new building is to be constructed, along with a new IT system or a large event that requires building structures before coordinating the event activities. In these cases, a Waterfall approach will be used to construct the building, and an Agile approach for the subsequent activities.

In our example, if Denise the architect had been mandated to deliver both the house and the interior design, she would have used a Waterfall approach to build the house, and an Agile approach for the interior design.

When To Use Which Method?

It is key to understand that no approach is better than the other; Waterfall and Agile simply serve different purposes and contexts.

Waterfall is great for projects that have a clear and well-defined outcome using existing technologies and proven techniques. It is very common in construction, infrastructure, and government programs. 

Agile can provide astounding results when dealing with uncertainty, unclear scopes, and untested techniques. Agile is also suited for projects where there are elements of uncertainty in the desired goal of the project. Agile is extremely popular for software development and design projects where a prototype is created, and improved upon in future cycles..

I’m often asked, “How do I know when to use Waterfall and when to use Agile?” I recommend a simple principle: If your team is unsure of the answer to this question, start with Waterfall.

While Agile can reap great rewards, it requires having a seasoned team that is knowledgeable and experienced in Agile projects. Otherwise, the flexible approach of Agile can lead to absolute chaos.

A team that has the sufficient experience to carry out an Agile project will know when an Agile approach should be used. If there are doubts, likely the team needs to gain some Agile experience, and gradually introduce concepts such as the Daily Stand-Up meetings that have been recognized to increase Waterfall projects’ performance.

Hiring an Agile coach to train the team on Agile methodologies, allowing for practice and feedback, can help accelerate your team’s adoption of Agile. Successful Agile adoption is a complex combination of mindset, processes, artifacts, and tools that require sound project management experience.

Feel free to contact us if you or your team wish to expand your understanding of the different approaches.

 

About the Author

Karim Radwan is a Director at Probity Strategy Consulting and a Trainer with IIL.

Building on his extensive program and project management experience, Karim specializes in productivity and crisis management methods. He is well known for his ability to translate complex issues into simple and actionable concepts. His skillset and enthusiasm have benefited a wide range of clients including governmental entities, fortune 500 companies, and startups.

 


Divergent-Convergent Paths Process For Conflict Management

By Luigi Morsa, Aerospace Engineer and Project Manager, SII Engineering & IT

Managing a team is complex and challenging at the same time. Team members naturally have different perceptions, personalities, characters, ideas, and they may be from different cultures. Getting along or minimizing conflict within a team is not easy. 

In managing conflict in teams, we consider two possible relationships: one where the leader interacts with team members, and one where team members interact among themselves and the leader is a “spectator”, but with a task to bring calm in difficult situations. 

Managing Conflicts in Projects

At first glance, conflict management could be perceived as distant from the project management environment, but managing conflict can be extremely useful to better understand and appreciate the diverse thinking of people in a team. 

All this leads to the well-known Conflict Management Techniques laid out in the PMBOK® Guide. The PMBOK® Guide recommends five techniques that project managers can use to manage or eliminate conflict in project teams: 

  • Withdraw / Avoid 
  • Smooth / Accommodate 
  • Compromise / Reconcile 
  • Force / Direct 
  • Collaborate / Problem Solve 

In the same project management guidance, the project manager is also described as a conflict manager. Among the critical skills needed to succeed as a project manager is the ability to manage and mitigate the frictions that are counterproductive and can lead to undesired sources of inefficiencies within a team. 

Regardless the details of the techniques, it’s worth pondering why people develop different ways of thinking and how they arrive at different conclusions and therefore divergent opinions. To address this complex question, we may consider a treatise of psychology or sociology concepts, or we can look at some parallels of how a mathematical theory is built. 

Our perspective draws parallels with a math theory which has no space for opinions. A math theory relies on a set of assumptions (called axioms[1]) accepted by all (or stakeholders, in a project management context) and considered as conventional truth. Through a logical process, other truths are obtained until no one questions the deductions or results. 

The only way to have divergence is to change the initial set of assumptions and the derived theory will then be different. A limpid example of two mathematical theories both valid, but with results and applicability much different, are the Euclidean and Non-Euclidean geometries. 

We can deduce that two people can have different opinions because their starting points are not exactly the same. On the other hand, when people define common starting points, the deductions, obtained by using logic, must converge toward the same results.

Dealing with Divergence

A possible strategy to resolving divergences can be based on the following sequential steps:

  • Understand by a backwards process why the deductions diverge
  • Identify common and different starting points
  • Perform a deep analysis aimed at defining a good set of common points
  • Convince the involved parties to sacrifice some starting points or “source” of disagreement

The following diagram exemplifies a Divergent-Convergent Paths Process that represents a way to obtain convergence by starting with divergent opinions. 

Diagram 1: Divergent-Convergent Paths Process

We need to consider that the leader has not only the task to analyze the facts and passively identify a way to reach compromise as described and shown above. Today, those who lead need to have a vision for a team or for a company. Therefore, it is possible that the agreement reached represents only an intermediate step to go in a different direction. 

We can also say that the compromise is, in most cases, only a short-term decision that has the benefit of mitigating the contrast and quieting the nerves. The compromise is not likely the best solution from a strategic long-term perspective. 

In other words, as soon as a conflict emerges, a compromise based on the analysis described above is applied (temporary solution); while at a later time, the ultimate and most visionary solution is cleverly reached and applied. The following picture gives an idea of the whole process.

Diagram 2: Divergent-Convergent Compromise Paths Process with Project Manager´s Visionary Solution 

The power of the hybrid approach relies on two main facts:

✓ Thanks to analysis and synthesis ways of thinking, the project manager is likely to understand better the varied working styles, personalities, and the ways the concerned parties think.

✓ By applying a temporary solution (compromise) as an intermediate step, it is more probable that the long term and visionary solution identified by the Project Manager will be better embraced or accepted by the team, instead of imposing this last one since the beginning.

Conclusion

Managing conflict and dealing with divergent viewpoints are unavoidable aspects of projects. Successfully navigating convergent and divergent viewpoints require strong communications skills, sound judgment, and an ability to compromise. The process described above together with continuous practice can help project managers mitigate, manage and resolve conflict.


[1] An axiom, postulate or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.


About the Author

Luigi Morsa (Ph.D.) is an Aerospace Engineer and Project Manager working in Germany at the consultant company SII engineering & IT. Luigi’s passion for project management has led him to contribute to two books by Dr. Harold Kerzner, the pioneer and globally recognized expert in project management. Luigi wrote two case studies for Project Management Case Studies, Fifth and Sixth Editions (Wiley, 2017, 2022) and the chapter on “Innovation Management Software” for Innovation Project Management (Wiley, 2019).

In 2018, Luigi was a speaker at the Project Management Institute (PMI®) EMEA Congress to discuss the complexity of the aircraft industry market, with particular emphasis on the relationship between product and customer needs. He is the author of two other blogs—“People Innovation: A New Vision to Innovate” (2019) and “Chess and Business Strategy” (2020).

 


Adaptability and Resilience

Cultivating Adaptability and Resilience

By Cyndi Synder Dionisio, Lead for the PMBOK ® Guide & President | Cynergy2

There is a principle in the PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition about adaptability and resilience, and if there is anything the past 2 years has taught us, it is the need for adaptability and resilience. The principle states: 

“Build adaptability and resiliency into the organization’s and project team’s approaches to help the project accommodate change, recover from setbacks, and advance the work of the project.” 

With the rapid pace and relentless need for transformation we are all facing change fatigue - so how can we continue to not just adapt but thrive in this environment? In this article I’ll talk about personal adaptability and resilience and provide you with some ways you can cultivate these two important qualities. 

Cultivating Adaptability 

Adaptability isn’t just about being able to adjust to new or changing conditions, environments, trends and other circumstances; it is about being able to adjust quickly, calmly and effectively. Change is often accompanied by stress, uncertainty, anxiety, self-doubt, and other limiting feelings. To move past these feelings and cultivate adaptability, we can take steps to prepare for a changing environment. When I say prepare, I’m not talking about preparing for a specific change, I am talking about updating your mindset and the way you think about change. There are three ways you can prepare yourself to function effectively in a rapidly changing environment. 

  1. Be observant. Rather than waiting for the next shift in your job, the competition, the market, etc., spend time observing what is happening. Look for trends and indicators of what is likely to happen. This behavior can put you in front of the change rather than being taken by surprise. Being ahead of the change allows you to maintain a sense of calm and prepare for what is coming.  
  1. Develop a growth mindset. Rather than seeing change as something that is bad, frightening or irritating, focus on what you can learn. What new skills can you develop? How will the new situation help you? Find ways you can turn it to your advantage. This mindset will help you maintain a positive attitude and shift your thinking from victim to victor.  
  1. Learn to accept change. Things are going to change whether we want them to or not and whether we are ready for them to or not. As the quote from Star Trek says, ‘resistance is futile’. Therefore, the faster you can accept it, plan for it, and even leverage and grow from it, the happier you will be. 

With change and transformation, preparation is only half the game. The other half is how you respond. There are several ways you can foster adaptability in the face of disruption. To start with, be curious and openminded. Ask questions and listen with an open mind. Try and understand what led to the current situation, what it means for you and your organization, and how to support the change.  

Next, think about the situation from multiple perspectives. Talk with your team members and colleagues. Get their take on the situation. Apply that curiosity we talked about above. When you can see a situation from multiple perspectives, you are more effective in dealing with the challenges it can bring.  

Which brings us to the next aspect of cultivating adaptability – approach the situation as a problem-solving opportunity. There are plenty of problem-solving frameworks you can apply to provide some structure to the process. Most of them have these common elements: 

Define the problem → identify the solution criteria →  generate options →  consider risks associated with the options  →  evaluate the options using the criteria  →  choose the best option.  

To strengthen your adaptability mindset when you are generating options, look for innovative solutions, foster creative thinking, and stretch your imagination. Don’t settle for the easiest or even the safest response. Think bigger, thing differently. You may end up with the easiest or safest response, but don’t lose the opportunity for innovation. 

Given that a change in the environment or conditions is often accompanied by a change in job roles and responsibilities – develop your skill set. This may mean developing new technical skills, or it may mean acquiring or brushing up on leadership and interpersonal skills. Afterall, it has been said that it isn’t the strongest or most intelligent that survive, but the most adaptable.  

Cultivating Resilience 

Another key quality we can all benefit from is resilience. Resilience is the ability to adjust to or recover readily from adversity, crisis, setbacks, change, and other significant sources of stress. We don’t have the luxury of evolutionary change. We must adapt quickly and recover quickly.  

Here are four ways you can cultivate resilience in your work and personal life. 

  1. Keep things in perspective. While a disruption or change may seem like a major concern, if you can step back and look at it from a wider lens, you will often find it is not as monumental as you first thought. Keeping things in perspective can include asking yourself, in the overall scheme of things, is this going to be a big deal in my life? Or does it just seem that way now? 
  1. Maintain a positive outlook. Thinking of all the things that could go wrong, or how awful the situation is, is counterproductive. No matter what the situation, endeavor to find a way to maintain a positive attitude. Your ability to recover from adversity is directly influenced by your attitude. Pay attention to both your internal words and your external words. The things you tell yourself are just as important as what you say out loud. Keep both conversations positive. 
  1. Accept change. Accepting change is a part of building resilience as well as adaptability. We can’t recover and move on if we are still holding onto the past or wishing things were different. People who are resilient acknowledge what is and keep moving forward.  
  1. Learn. The most resilient people are always learning. You can learn from positive as well as negative outcomes. You can learn from peers, mentors, and friends. Spend time reflecting to see what behaviors or actions you can carry forward, and which you should adjust in the future.  

The only thing certain these days is change! Thus, one of the best things you can do for yourself, both personally and professionally, is develop your ability to be flexible and adapt, and to recover quickly and learn from your experience.  

To learn more about the principles of the PMBOK® Guide, watch my IPM Day Presentation, "Putting the PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition to Work", on November 4. You can learn more about the presentation and register here using the code DIONISO for $10 OFF.

Cyndi Adaptability and ResilienceAbout the Author

Cynthia (Cyndi) Snyder Dionisio is a professional project management author, consultant, and instructor. Ms. Dionisio provides consulting and training services for LinkedIn Learning, academia, government and private industry. An accomplished author and facilitator, she has written a dozen books on project management and trained thousands of project managers. Cyndi has been the Chair for three editions of the PMBOK® Guide. In 2009 she was awarded PMI’s Distinguished Contribution Award and in 2018 she was presented with the PMI Fellow Award.


Teams Beyond the Comfort Zone

By Felix Ludosan - Senior Program Manager | BASF 

As project professionals, we’re used to thinking about the plans, deadlines, deliverables.

We lead or be a team player as the situation requires. We experience and manage projects in the context of both our professional and personal lives.

But what happens when project thinking seeps into unfamiliar territory, to situations that extend beyond our normal comfort zone?

Beyond comfort means learning new skills and adapting quickly

As a former professional basketball player, I enjoy physical sports and a challenge every now and then. Sailing, a sport I have always wanted to try, was not exactly in my comfort zone.

When I was offered the chance to join a team sailing experience along the scenic Croatian coast, I jumped into the challenge. The prospect of learning new skills, and most of all, joining an exciting team, made me say yes. I’m about to set sail to Croatia’s largest marina in Sukošan, which some call a paradise for boaters!

Project professionals know this situation well: you get two or more opportunities to join new projects and something inside you says, “Stay in the comfort zone”. Other voices warn you to stay away of troubled waters, with a high probability to fail. But if you always listen to these voices, you will certainly miss important experiences in your life.

We flew to Zadar in Croatia and joined the sailing team in the country’s largest marina in Sukošan. The plan was to enter the sea the next morning, which meant there wasn’t really much time for team building.

We first went for dinner at the marina restaurant, surpassing Tuckman’s Five Stages of Group Development very quickly towards the Performing stage. Then we went back to the boat and clarified the roles and responsibilities for the next seven days.

Everyone was aware of the individual sailing skills of the others, making it easier to assign duties among the team members. Awareness about individual capabilities and the recognition that everyone can contribute in some way to the team’s goals are both key for team success.

My job was to help pull the sheets and lines at sea and to pick up the mooring line when docking in the marina, because that was the best I could do on the ship. To be successful in a project, it is important that specific tasks are carried out by the most skilled person, wherever possible. This is crucial, when sailing.

After being clear about our roles, we planned together the next sailing day, just as you would do in a projects, particulary some hybrid projects. On one hand, the final goal was clear—bring back the boat to Sukošan after one week; on the other hand, we kept the daily itinerary flexible, based on latest weather forecasts, personal mood, and physical condition of the team members.

Being a self-organizing team on a sailing trip, leadership is an important factor to success. Like in every relationship, consensus about decisions is not a given, but in crucial situations like on day four of our trip, there were no doubts. The dangerous Bora winds falling from the Dinaric Alps suddenly hit our ship as we were passing a strait between two islands. Our team member Mark immediately took the lead, and everyone followed his instructions without any discussion or blaming.

That reminded me of project situations—when quick decisions and actions are required, a strict hierarchy is very useful. After a two-hour-struggle with the sails and the waves, we managed to reach a calm bay. Afterwards, we tried to fix the damage to the ship. We cooked and ate together, while reviewing the situation and optimizing our approach for the future. We also exchanged our personal feelings and moods after this dramatic emergency. It reminded me again how beneficial it is for projects to have a team collocated to enhance information coordination and maximize resources.

The last days on the ship were smooth and, as we were handing over the boat to the charterer, we realized how fast a team can grow in just seven days, and how much we can accomplish together.

Because … we were on the same boat.

If you want to know what I learned about the power of teams during my basketball career, join my presentation at IIL’s International Project Management Day, which opens on November 4, 2021, and is available On-Demand until February 6, 2022.

Register here and get a $10 discount by using the code LUDOSAN.

IPM Day Speaker Felix Ludosan - Out of His Comfort ZoneAbout The Author

Felix Ludosan played basketball on a professional level before he joined IBM Germany as a Computer Science graduate in 1995. When ‘Big Blue’ established their Project Management Center of Excellence in 1997, Felix decided to pursue a project management career. He discovered early that his sports experience was extremely beneficial for the project management profession, which became his passion for life. Felix has worked in numerous industries including Automotive, Financial Services, Insurance, Government, and Manufacturing. The 6.5 ft. PMP® certified project manager is currently one of the Project Management thought leaders at BASF in Germany, a leading multinational chemical company. As a certified Sports Mental Coach and Athlete Manager, Felix also coaches young athletes, including his son, an international soccer goalkeeper playing in the U.S., and his daughter who plays basketball in Germany.


Agile

Overview and Key Themes of IIL’s 2021 Agile & Scrum Online Conference


IIL’s 6th annual Agile and Scrum Online Conference: Co-Create for Greater Value opens on June 3, 2021. Our theme this year is Co-Create for Greater Value. In this article, we’ll preview what you can expect to take away from this unique learning event. View full event and registration details here.

Agile has become one of the hottest topics in the project management world, mainly due to its proven success in software projects and its ability to deliver quick and real value to customers. Today, agile concepts have expanded well into nearly every industry, across products and services. In a post-pandemic world where disruption and change is the norm, an agile mindset and approach are front and center for individuals, teams and organizations alike.

Agile and Scrum concepts are about everyone on a team coming together, and being empowered to work towards an end goal, with a customer-first mindset. Where do teams even begin with agile transformation? How can we create business and customer value? What kind of culture and mindset can drive success? What can we do differently, with our teams?

Our goals will be to understand: Agile transformation at a team and organizational level; creating value in client-centric processes and projects; and the crucial soft skills that enable collaboration and creativity. Let’s take a deeper preview.

Agile Transformation

Enterprises across the globe are evolving to become agile organizations to thrive in today’s unpredictable rapidly changing environment. Agile transformations are long-term journeys that begin with an open mindset and vision from the top. Embedding new ways of working, applying enterprise-design thinking and customer centricity in problem solving are key themes of agile transformation.

To start us off, join us for the keynote on Agile Leadership & Enterprise Transformation with Marcel Greutmann, VP Cloud Advisory Services at IBM Europe. Marcel will share his enterprise transformation perspective from working with firms across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. His personal insights grounded in real-life stories about what works and what doesn’t will inspire you in your way forward.

Helping us Scale Agile with Simplicity by eliminating complexity in large Agile programs will be Tyler Spindel, Agile Program Lead at Capital One.

Stuck on your Agile Journey? Become a Learning Organization, says Scott Ambler, Vice President and Chief Scientist, Disciplined Agile at Project Management Institute (PMI). His keynote will explore how to apply the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit to improve your continuous improvement strategy.

And when is the ‘right time’ for a team to scale agile? To help us make sense of the choices, timing and elephant traps involved in scaling Agile, join Roy Shilling, Senior Agile Coach and Trainer at IIL in his session The Do’s and Don’ts of Scaling Agile.

Creating Value in Client-Centric Processes

Attendees will learn the practical tools and skillsets needed to drive an agile approach in teams and organizations. We’ll hear from CEOs of leading agile startups, Agile practitioners, coaches and thought leaders who will share key ideas and knowledge that can help you lead with an agile mindset and skillset.

What’s it like to be working in 3 hour sprints at some of the top global automotive and AI companies in the world? Leading automotive companies are developing new digital products, services and interfaces at lightning speed. Don’t miss Agile at Tesla – The Misinformation that you can’t Apply Agile to Hardware, with Joe Justice, CEO of Wikispeed

There is no better place to learn agile than from the nimble start-ups that are leading the charge in the cloud-based computing space. In his session Shifting Left until We Shift Right, Rob Zuber, CTO of CircleCI will help us understand the principles such as DevOps and CI/CD in the context of agile development, and how scenario planning can minimize cost and risk while maximizing value delivery.

Learn and practice new and essential skills of Test-Driven Development: A Stunningly Quick Introduction, one of the foundational practices of high-quality product development in the session with Richard Kasperowski, author, teacher, speaker and coach focused on team-building and high-performance teams.

Understand the difference between pursuing agile and Leveraging Agility for Business Problem-Solving with Leila Rao, President of AgileXtended and creator of the Compass for Agility framework which enables organizations to shape their own compass as they adapt, innovate and thrive in challenging environments.

Learn how to create well-defined Value Stream Mapping, one of the most important Lean tools for an organization wanting to plan, implement and improve a product or service to the point of reaching the customer, with Jorgelina Bross-Puglisi, Trainer & Consultant at IIL

The newest kid on the block for project delivery is DevOps, a merge of development and operations. DevOps takes what is good about agile and builds on it with some key differences. Understand why DevOps is critical for many organizations and the success factors in delivering sustainable value from DevOps investments, in the keynote DevOps Will Fail, Unless … with Paul Wilkinson, Business Development Officer of GamingWorks.

Mindset and Culture

The greatest predictor of success is any project are the courage, the creativity and the conversations that we have with others.

How do you apply agile practices and practices at scale without stifling the creativity, autonomy, and energy of your teams? Aaron Bjork, Principal Group Product Manager at Microsoft shares his perspectives in The Intersection of Agile and Culture.

Learn the actions that everyone can take away to foster better conversations with stakeholders in How Daring to Dialogue Improves Performance and Creates a Culture of Agility, a keynote led by Marsha Acker, CEO of TeamCatapult.

In her keynote The Agile Mindset: Motivating vs Mandating Change, Dawn Nicole McIlwain, Agile Transformation Leader of BrandDisco LLC will offer you the key tips and techniques to overcome challenges in motivating your team towards a continuous Agile mindset.

Acknowledging our project stakeholders, team accomplishment with courage and creativity will be a key theme of The Grateful Agile Leader talk with Susan Parente, Principal Consultant of S3 Technologies.

Are you ready for change for yourself, your teams, and your organization as a whole? Move from Resisting Agile to Yes, Agile! with Louria Lindauer, Agile & Leadership Coach and Founder of Success Agility, LLC.

Learn from real-life experiences of coaches and practitioners who have been there. The New AI: Agility and Inclusion with Sara Murdock, PhD, Global Leader and Culture Leader will help you use Agile as a lens to put concepts of Inclusion, Belonging and Psychological Safety into action. Erin Bolk, Senior Scrum Master at National Guardian Life Insurance Company, will share the essential tools you can use to uncover challenges, strengths and possibilities with yourself, your team and your organization, in Showing Up to Be Your Best Every Day.

Additional Learning

Be sure to attend two on-demand courses (complimentary to attendees) that provide foundational understanding of key Agile concepts. Introduction to Agile for Executives presented by Max Langosco provides an overview of Agile values and principles, the key benefits of an Agile approach, and its differences with the traditional Waterfall method. Agile Release Plans with Jeffrey Nielsen will equip you with the necessary knowledge to bridge the gap between product vision and ‘product backlog’ as defined in the Agile approach. Both are presented by certified Project and Scrum Masters. Don’t miss these essential learning opportunities!

Register for the Agile and Scrum Online Conference today! Learn more about the event and register here. Teams and organizations requesting a group rate or unlimited license, click here.

 


Agile for Non-IT Projects

By Mohamed Khalifa
Project Management Consultant, Coach & PMI Authorized Instructor
PfMP, PgMP, PMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, PMI-PBA, PMI-ACP, OPM3, CDA
Project+, HRBP, CKM, CBAP, LIMC, CCMAP, CTT+, IPMO-Expert

Since seventeen people met in February 2001 at Wasatch mountains of Utah to discuss and draft the Agile Manifesto, software projects have been the main focus of Agile. Since this time, Agile became one of the hottest topics in the project management world, mainly due to its proven success on software projects and its ability to deliver quick and real value to customers, reduce the risks and increase collaboration between different stakeholders.

After years of using agile methodologies, tools and techniques many professionals around the world started looking at the Agile Manifesto through lenses other than software development. They proclaimed to very clearly see that the Agile Manifesto, principles, tools and techniques can make the same level of success on different types of projects in addition to software development.

In the current turbulent and fast changing world, we need to go back to the basics, back to the reason which made agile successful which is “be Agile, be Adaptive”. If we start referring to the main Agile Manifesto and do small changes in the statements, we will find that they will work fine with projects of different types.

Let us have a look at the Agile Manifesto which requires preference of:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
  • Business value over comprehensive documentation,
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The above can work in any project and can be adopted as an organization’s philosophy to deliver fast, reduce the risks, solve the conflict between different stakeholders and clarify the requirements as we work on projects.

To successfully execute non-software projects using Agile, we can use the Agile principles to set clear expectations with stakeholders, bring sanity to project execution, and mine the benefits of Agile.

While this approach may look similar to the principles followed in an Agile software delivery project, their applications are quite different when it comes to non-software projects.

  • Define “Working Product or Service” can be used to refer to any deliverable that is produced by the project and brings value to the customer.
  • Define “Customer” can help us to define who is the ‘right’ Product Owner.
  • Define ‘Done’: Work with the sponsors and product owner to identify ‘done’ for each story/deliverable.
  • Measure Business Value: Measuring or establishing the business value of the work done is key for any project.

Since most of the deliverables exist as theories or prototypes, it is important to prepare a business case at the start of the initiative that clearly provides the cost benefit for this initiative followed by articulating the benefits achieved at regular intervals, preferably at the ends of iterations.

Expect the Unexpected: Project scope, objective, and goals are liable to change frequently and drastically. Therefore, go for shorter iterations, joint workshops, paired development of deliverables, continuous expert and peer reviews, and proper socialization of theories and ideas. Having senior strategists, architects, or consultants is helpful, especially if they have a deep experience on the subject matter as well as with the overall organization.

Did you try to apply Agile Mindset in your projects? Is it working? What was good? What was bad? Share with us your valuable thoughts.

Explore IIL’s Agile and Scrum Courses here or contact us at learning@iil.com or (212) 758-0177. 


Project Management

Project Management Predictions for 2021


By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D

The landscape for project management changes almost every year. Some changes are relatively small or incremental whereas other changes can be significant. Historically, most of the changes appeared in the methodology, processes, tools, and techniques. Now, many of the changes are behavioral changes.

There will be a significant change in how we define the success (and failure) of a project. This is one of the changes I discussed last year, and I am reiterating the need for this change because some companies are still reluctant to make this change necessary for critical improvements in project management.

For years, the definition of project success was the creation of project deliverables within the constraints of time, cost, and scope. While this definition seemed relatively easy to use, and is still being used today, it created several headaches. First, companies can always create deliverables within time, cost, and scope, but there is no guarantee that customers would purchase the end results. Second, everyone seemed to agree that there should be a “business” component to project success but were unable to identify how to do it because of the lack of project-related business metrics. Third, this definition of project success was restricted to traditional or operational projects. Functional managers that were responsible for the strategic projects were utilizing their own definitions of project success, and many of these strategic projects were being executed under the radar screen because of the competition in the company for funding for strategic projects.

Another headache with the traditional definition of success was that its basis was on the belief that time, cost, and scope are the only three constraints on a project. When PMI introduced the concept of competing constraints, the definition of success had to ultimately change because it may be impossible to complete a project within all the competing constraints.

Today, companies believe they are managing their business as a stream of projects, including both strategic and traditional projects. As such, there must exist a definition that satisfies all types of projects. The three components of success today are: (1) the project must provide or at least identify business benefits; (2) the project’s benefits must be harvested such that they can be converted into sustainable business value that can be expressed quantitatively; and (3) the projects must be aligned to strategic business objectives.

With these three components as part of the project’s success criteria, companies must ask themselves when creating a portfolio of strategic projects, “Why expend resources and work on this project if the intent is not to create sustainable business value?” These three components can also be used to create failure criteria as to when to pull the plug and stop working on a project.

There will be a significant growth in the number of metrics, especially business-related metrics, to be use on projects When we discuss competing constraints, we must realize that many of the new constraints are business-oriented constraints. The business side of projects will need to be understood much better than in the past. This will require significantly more metrics than just time, cost, and scope.

Companies will need to create metrics that can track benefits realization, value created from the benefits and how each project is aligned to strategic business objectives. To do this may require the creation of 20-30 new metrics. Some companies have metric libraries that contain more than 50 metrics. This will undoubtedly lead to major changes in the earned value measurement systems (EVMS) currently be used.

The new project business metrics must be able to be combined to answer questions that executives have concerning business and portfolio health. The list below identifies metrics that executives need to make decisions concerning business and portfolio health.

  • Business profitability
  • Portfolio Health
  • Portfolio benefits realization
  • Portfolio value achieved
  • The mix of projects in the portfolio
  • Resource availability
  • Capacity utilization
  • Strategic alignment of projects
  • Overall business performance

The project-based business metrics must be able to be combined to create this list of metrics that executives need for business decision-making. Companies will have a metrics library since the number of metrics can become significant. Companies may use a set of “core” metrics that are required on each project but then establish other metrics unique to this project. Since each project many have different success criteria, the unique metrics must support the criteria for measuring and reporting success.

There will be a growth in the creation of manifestos attributed to flexible project management frameworks or methodologies that are capable of measuring benefits and business value as the project progresses and after the deliverables have been created. The traditional “waterfall” approach to project management implementation has been used successfully for years, but has the limitation that value is measurable primarily at the end of the project. Companies want to have value and benefits metrics reported throughout the project so that they can cancel or redirect non-performing projects.

Techniques such as agile and Scrum appear to do a better job measuring and report value created through the project than other approaches. In the future, we can expect more flexible project management approaches such as agile and Scrum to appear.

As new flexible frameworks appear, we will also see more documents like the Agile Manifesto that discusses the best ways to use the approach. I would expect most of the information in each new manifesto to be more behavioral that just continuous improvements in the processes, tools, and techniques traditionally used in project management applications.

There will be a significant change in the behavioral or people-oriented skill set that some project managers may need to support the introduction of new and more flexible methodologies. When there exists some commonality among the projects in a firm such that a one-size-fits-all approach can be used during project execution, the skill set for the project managers may be known with some degree of certainty. But when project managers are now responsible for managing new types of projects, especially with flexible frameworks, new skills may be necessary.

Flexible methodologies focus on better people-oriented leadership, more collaboration, and a concern for the health and well-being of the team members rather than just a focus on the creation of deliverables. Some of the newer skills being taught in people-oriented rather than task-oriented leadership on projects, how to conduct brainstorming sessions, design thinking and creative problem-solving.

Conclusions:

It is unrealistic to think that these will be the only changes that will occur in 2021. There will be other changes, but perhaps not as significant as these changes. The implementation of these changes requires that companies try to envision the future and plan for it beginning with changes to the corporate culture. For companies that believe in “business as usual” or “let’s leave well enough alone”, these changes will not be implemented. Those companies that believe in “doing things the same old way” will most likely struggle to stay in existence.


Virtual Learning in 2021: The 7 Trends to Look out for


By Pamela S. Hogle

Digital learning took the spotlight in 2020, as schools, corporations, and organizations of all types abruptly moved to remote learning and working. With hope for rosier days ahead, what does 2021 hold for learning and development (L&D) professionals and online training? These 7 notable trends may influence our lives as L&D pros, learners, and employees:

1. Virtual learning continues to gain traction

Virtual training expert Cindy Huggett, who conducts an annual survey on live, instructor-led virtual training, released her 2020 findings in early December. Unsurprisingly, 90% of her nearly 900 respondents are doing more virtual training this year. Many of them “realize it’s the way to do business going forward,” in the words of one survey participant. LinkedIn Learning’s Leading with Learning report found similar attitudes, with three-quarters of respondents anticipating “a lot more” online learning and nearly 80% expecting increased virtual training even after the COVID crisis ends.

Typical virtual classes are an hour long, and nearly half are part of a blended learning strategy, Huggett reports. The most common challenge reported was technology issues, and a quarter of respondents hoped to move to a different platform. Survey respondents report that the average hourlong virtual class requires 9 hours of development time.

2. Agile Project Management is hot

As an approach that excels at coping with frequent change, iterative and nimble Agile Project Management seems ideally suited to the COVID and post-COVID work environment. Benefits to using an Agile Project Management approach include “MVP” or the minimum viable product concept and the flexibility to adjust the project scope as it progresses. MVP prioritizes getting a simple “draft” version of a product into the hands of stakeholders — ideally, people who will be actual users of the end product — as early in the development cycle as possible. For an eLearning product, that would mean initial testing of basic iterations with real learners. Their feedback provides information that improves future iterations of the product. Using Agile Project Management can improve efficiency and quality.

3. Adopting Agile and Scrum approaches in L&D

In tandem with the embrace of Agile Project Management is the increasing use of Agile and Scrum principles and tactics. With an emphasis on collaboration and continuous improvement, these approaches strive to “delight customers.”

Scrum is a framework often used to implement Agile. It formalizes some project management best practices, like having regular check-ins with the entire team, regularly reviewing the work-in-progress with the customer, and conducting reviews of team performance with the goal of identifying and correcting weaknesses and continually improving processes. Agile Project Management teams might include a “Scrum master” to support the team in implementing the Agile approach.

4. Hiring managers are turning their gaze inward

Internal recruiting is a win-win. Companies that are known to promote from within or facilitate internal transfers are attractive to employees, who consistently express interest in skill-building and career-advancement opportunities. Organizations benefit by retaining top performers, reducing recruiting and hiring costs, and reducing employee turnover. LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends report called recruiting and L&D “the new power couple” and encouraged businesses to implement or improve their formal internal hiring processes. One suggestion: Map current employees’ skills and link them with upskilling opportunities.

5. … And turn to upskilling & reskilling current employees

The trend toward reskilling — teaching workers new skills needed for a new position — and upskilling employees — updating existing skills to improve a worker’s ability to perform their current job — was tagged in early 2020 in a McKinsey report. Changes forced by the pandemic dramatically increased the urgency of teaching new and updated skills to employees as their businesses pivoted to remote work, online ordering, or contactless delivery, and adopted new safety and operating protocols. 

In May, McKinsey predicted that reskilling will become even more central to companies hoping to emerge strong and resilient from the COVID crisis. The ability to “produce and deliver digital content rapidly to a broad base of employees” will enable companies to build skills needed for the “distance economy,” adjust to changes in how people work, eat, shop, and travel — and cope with shifts in global supply chains, according to McKinsey. Companies that reskill with an eye to helping employees in key parts of their business respond well to changes and will be positioned to respond effectively to whatever challenges the COVID and post-COVID eras present.

6. Increased demand for training focused on power skills

So-called “power” skills including critical thinking, communication, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability top lists of in-demand skills for jobs at all levels, but especially leadership roles. Training for these skills, which improve team performance, business relationship management, and leadership across industries and business functions, is also in demand. 

7. Peer / learner-generated content

This power-skills training is apparently paying off in greater collaboration among peers. Peer-to-peer learning and learner-generated content are among emerging trends for 2020 and beyond. This reflects learners’ experience as self-directed learners and consumers, as well as an emphasis on sharing knowledge in companies with strong learning cultures. Peer-to-peer learning develops leaders within the organization, preserves and passes on institutional knowledge, and deepens relationships among peers and colleagues.

Looking ahead at professional development trends in 2021

These trends indicate a bright future for online training designers, developers, and vendors. Remote work leapt into the forefront of many business plans and learning at all levels will remain heavily focused on digital options for some time. 


Chess and Business Strategy

By Luigi Morsa, Ph.D.

Undoubtedly the chess game is fascinating because it implies deep thinking, strategy, and prediction ability. It is often seen analogous to a business strategy. Each player fervently studies the board, patiently waits their turn, anticipates the opponent’s next move, and runs through potential scenarios in their head. This is not so different from strategic planning in the business world. However, in some markets, the competitors attack simultaneously from all sides, the internal struggles of a company can have a negative effect, and a host of other elements which can all be put into play at the same time. Nevertheless, the parallels between chess and business are clear.

Companies put chess principles into action on a regular basis, often without even realizing that they are strategically positioning their pieces in a series of moves that have been utilized multiple times through the years. No wonder, therefore, that we can find a chessboard in the home or office of top CEOs or world leaders. The list of US presidents enthusiastic about chess is long, from Lincoln to Jimmy Carter to, more recently, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; outside the USA we can mention Mikhail Gorbachev, Yasser Arafat, Angela Merkel and even important historical personalities like Mandela or Napoleon, and even some European dictators.

Sometimes chess is even an obsession: the President-elect of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, who credits his success to his chess playing ability, was said to have delayed a strategy meeting simply in order to finish a chess game! Most of the world’s billionaires are chess players: Gates, Ellison, Soros, van Oosterom, and others; even quite young entrepreneurs  today,  like  Miami’s  Care  Cloud founder  Albert Santalo, A.J. Steigman, founder and CEO of Soletron, and co-founder and CEO of Facebook,  Mark  Zuckerberg, have a history of playing chess and using its principles in creative business  transactions.

Peter Thiel, one of the early investors in Facebook and the founder of PayPal, has history as a chess master. He maintains that it is essential “to know the value of the pieces”. Each piece in a chess game has a specific value. By knowing the value, it is easier to make decisions about game strategy and placement. Similarly, by knowing the value of employees and other associates, it can be easier to make business decisions regarding job responsibilities and other related decisions.

Justin Moore, child chess prodigy, was ranked in the top 20 youth chess players in the United States by the time he was a teenager. Moore is now CEO of Axcient, a cloud services provider. According to Moore, too many companies lose sight of their goal and get sidetracked into reactionary activities. As a chess player, Moore understands the value in planning an endgame, and explains that businesses must model the same behavior. By not being waylaid by the activities of a competitor, it is easier to remain focused on the ultimate goal of the company. Due to the importance that in the business strategy is given to the chess game, two researchers, Hunt and Cangemi in the study, “Want to improve your leadership skills? Play chess!” came to the conclusion that in order to bridge the gap between scholarship and entrepreneurship, and to build better leaders capable of handling future demands; the well-researched and powerful tool of Chess should be incorporated into the early grade curriculum, as well as in graduate leadership, business, industrial, and educational programs. Chess can be the catalyst to enhance the skills of graduates and leaders alike to remain competitive in a global economy.

We could say that according to people in business, in order to succeed, it is becoming more and more advisable to have the mindset of a chess player. In literature, there are several examples about the parallelism between chess and business, but rarely there are specific examples on a real chessboard; the scope of this article is to discuss a clear and real example of chess strategy in business.

The chess game is a competition between two subjects. Therefore, from a business point of view, this fits well when we refer to a duopoly. One of the most interesting and fascinating duopoly markets of the last several years is the one between the two giant airplanes manufacturers: Boeing and Airbus. It is difficult to find other markets where two actors play. In the case of the big airplane market, there are only Boeing and Airbus because the barrier to entry into this market is quite high.

Having only two players, the market dynamics and strategies can be displayed on a chessboard and can be interpreted through the eyes of a chess player. A tangible example is given by the competition between the models of the Boeing 747 and Airbus 380. Boeing introduced the B747 in 1970 and for the following 37 years had the monopoly in big, long range airplanes. This allowed Boeing to gain enormous profitability with the advantage of investing and competing in other segments of the market where Airbus had a presence. For this reason, people at Airbus realized that if they really wanted to compete with Boeing, they needed to attack the B747. Therefore, after a long gestation period starting in 1988 and continuing through the early months of 2000, the board management at Airbus decided to develop the A380 (introduced in 2007), a four engines aircraft like B747, but 20% more efficient and with an entire second floor along its fuselage, able to provide seating for 555 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in an all-economy class configuration; while the B747 carries up to 524 passengers.

The precondition for success looked to be close at hand, but something went wrong. While the European engineers were working on the A380 project, their counterparts in USA were figuring out a different scenario. Instead of proposing the classical schema of connection between great hubs and then taking a second flight to the final destination, the idea was to connect directly two minor airports. In other words, instead of taking a short range aircraft from Stockholm flying to London, then London-New York (major hubs connection) by flying a big long range aircraft and then a short range aircraft to cover the distance New York-Las Vegas, the proposal was to fly directly from Stockholm to Las Vegas.

Hub and Spoke
Point to Point

The challenge was to create an aircraft remaining competitive by carrying less passengers compared to A380 or B747. This was a necessity because the demand for direct flights is not the same as among major hubs. In order pursue this task, engineers in the USA developed the 787 Dreamliner (introduced in 2011, 224-330 passengers seats versions), with a carbon-composite fuselage (lighter material than aluminium), equipped with two engines and able to fly longer distances while consuming less jet fuel than the A380. Without going into so much detail, we can say that history has shown that the airline companies have preferred the new model introduced by Boeing with B787, and for this reason Airbus started to develop its own version of a long-range, fuel-efficient airplane, called the A350-XWB (300-350 seating), which entered in service in 2015.

If we now look at a chessboard, we can imagine B747 and A380 as the two queens of the black and white pieces set (actually, one of the B747 nickname is “Queen of the Sky”). The idea of the player with white pieces was to attack undisturbed the black queen, but as shown in the picture, the black bishop (B787) was moved to block the white queen’s attack, and as a consequence the player with the white set moved the rook (A350) to contrast the bishop.  It has to be underlined, especially for the chess experts in order to avoid outraging them, that the description above is clearly inappropriate; it is not entirely in agreement with the chess logic, but it is important because it gives a remarkable image of the strategies.

In economic terms, there are models that allow us to understand and above all to predict the impact of the introduction of a new aircraft in a market. One of these relatively simple models is for instance “the Cournot competition” that was applied in 1988 by the professor Richard Baldwin and by Paul Krugman, the laureate economy Nobel prize in 2008, to study the competition between the aircraft models of Airbus and Boeing. The model worked quite well, but as shown in the example above it is a matter of hypothesis and therefore strategies because if we do not take into account that our competitor could introduce something new in the market, inevitably our prediction will be wrong.

Other important economic studies have often taken into account the “static” situation of the market, similar to very interesting works of Klepper (1990, 1994) and Neven & Seabright (1995). Even relatively recent studies like Irwin and Pavcnik in 2004, which examines exactly the competition between Airbus and Boeing after the introduction of A380, did not consider a possible aircraft outside the segment of A380 and B747 that could affect the market. However, in 2004 in defense of the authors, the idea of the B787 Dreamliner was very vague. Nevertheless, the history of the aircraft market evolution has proved that a certain degree of unpredictability should be taken into account.

Finally, the example of the competition between A380 and B747 is meaningful because is a good example to highlight the importance of having a vision of the future and to avoid the limitations of near-term thinking only. We can also say that even though we have good tools to perform the economic analyses and we choose models that do not take into account some possible moves by our competitors, our prediction will fail in any case; for this reason it is important to have in business the attitude of a chess player!


About the Author
Luigi Morsa (Ph.D.) is an Aerospace Engineer and Project Manager working in Germany at the consultant company SII engineering & IT. Luigi’s passion for project management has led him to contribute to two books by Dr. Harold Kerzner, the pioneer and globally recognized expert in project management. More in detail, Luigi wrote the case study “The Airbus A380” and the chapter on “Innovation Management Software” for the books Project Management Case Studies, Fifth Edition (Wiley, 2017) and Innovation Project Management (Wiley, 2019), respectively. In 2018, he was a speaker at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® EMEA Congress to discuss the complexity of the aircraft-industry market, with particular emphasis on the relationship between the product and customer needs.

References

  1. https://www.cleverism.com/chess-principles-make-better-corporate-strategist/
  2. Samuel J., Hunt,; Joseph Cangemi; Want to improve your leadership skills? Play chess!, Education; Spring 2014, Vol. 134 Issue 3, p359
  3. Luigi, Morsa; The Airbus A380 Airplane, case study for the book “Project Management Case Studies” 5th Edition by Harold Kerzner, Wiley, April 2017
  4. Richard Baldwin, Paul Krugman; Industrial Policy and International Competition in Wide-Bodied, chapter for the book “Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis” by Robert E. Baldwin, University of Chicago Press, 1988
  5. Klepper, G., 1990. Entry into the market for large transport aircraft. European Economic Review 34, 775– 803.
  6. Klepper, G., 1994. Industrial policy in the transport aircraft industry. In: Krugman, P., Smith, A. (Eds.), Empirical Studies of Strategic Trade Policy. University of Chicago Press for the NBER, Chicago.
  7. Neven, D., Seabright, P., 1995. European industrial policy: the airbus case. Economic Policy 21, 313– 358.
  8. Douglas A. Irwin, Nina Pavcnik, Airbus versus Boeing revisited: international competition in the aircraft market, Journal of International Economics 64 (2004) 223– 245

Family Project Management

Family Project Management: What You Need to Know

By Hilary Kinney, PMP – Strategic Communications and Project Management Consultant, Vision Realized

Are you working at home during quarantine and parenting/home-schooling at the same time? Considering how to handle things this summer? Here are a few project management principles that can help.

 

Set a Realistic Plan/Scope and Get Buy-in

First, it’s important to set a realistic plan and get buy-in from your family. What are you trying to accomplish during this time, what are you not trying to accomplish? In other words, what’s your project scope? You and your partner need to be aligned on the same plan. Get input from the kids, because they will be more apt to participate and may have some great ideas like helping with cleaning.

• Are the kids just submitting required schoolwork, or are they doing extra?

• For the summer, what are the kids’ roles and responsibilities?

• Are your work hours being adjusted?

• Are the kids’ screen time allotments changing?

• Are projects around the house included?

 

Have a Kick-off Meeting and Daily Check-ins

Once you’ve decided on your plan/scope, share it with the entire family. Have a kick-off family meeting to set expectations and explain roles and responsibilities. Communicate to the kids what’s expected of them. Once the plan is in place, have daily meetings to see what work is being accomplished, how much screen time the kids have had, etc. We usually do this during breakfast and also try to have lunch together.

 

Make an Action Item List

Feeling overwhelmed and disorganized? Make a list of each task, who’s responsible for it, and when it needs to be completed. Include chores and schoolwork. I have found that a whiteboard of daily activities works well for us. I list what needs to be done each day, and my son enjoys erasing things from the list when they’re done.

 

Recognize the Limitations / Be Realistic

All projects have constraints, including time, cost, and quality. Cost considerations include, for example, whether you pay for meal delivery services and tutoring. Quality and time considerations affect how much focus is spent on work, school, and play. Realize that spending more time and effort on one activity will affect the others. Keeping these constraints in mind can help you decide how to manage them.

 

Be Agile

Ensure the plan is delivering the results you want in school performance, family dynamics, work productivity, etc. Focus more on results than process. Experiment and adjust as necessary. I’ve learned that my son can focus better on school in the afternoon after we play outside in the morning, rather than doing his schoolwork first. If some of the online learning isn’t working for you, try a more hands-on approach. For example, cook dinner together and learn about math and chemistry.

 

Make it Fun & Positive

The main goal should be to develop a loving, productive environment among your family team members with shared objectives, trust, commitment, and accountability. Recognize and celebrate accomplishments, both large and small. Praise and thank you notes are great, but try to think outside the box. For example, have an ice cream night to celebrate milestones like all the chores getting done that week or the completion of a school quarter.

Combining how we approach work and family can help us focus and feel more integrated. Are there any other parenting ideas that are working for you during this time? Please share in the comments below.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Republished with permission.

About the Author

Hilary Kinney works with companies to achieve their vision through strategic communications and project management.

She has 17 years of experience successfully advancing business priorities and deploying major projects for large corporations. Her achievements range from facilitating a C-suite-sponsored customer recognition program across 7,000 properties globally, to directing special projects from the President’s office at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

Hilary earned a B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. She holds a Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification from the Project Management Institute, as well as a Change Management Certification from the Prosci Change Management Leadership Center. Hilary lives in the Washington, D.C. area, where she enjoys outdoor activities with her family.