Category: change

Agile is Value Driven, Not Plan Driven


How many times have we all experienced this? Leadership asks for project status. What they want is a color. Is the project green, yellow or red? If it’s green, all is well. If it’s yellow, there is cause for concern. If it’s red, sound the alarm!

And how do we justify whether a project is green, yellow or red? We check the project schedule, budget and scope. If one if these areas doesn’t align with the plan, the project is red.

If we were talking about waterfall projects, this wouldn’t be an issue. The problem is, many companies manage “Agile” projects in this same way. They want to be Agile, but fail to let go of a plan driven, project focused approach.

Agile is a value driven approach, not plan driven.

A plan driven, project focused, approach is what we learned when we got our PMP’s. Everything is planned up front. Requirements are fixed, and cost and schedule are estimated. We then report status based on how the project is doing compared to the plan.

When it comes to software development, we know a plan driven approach is flawed. Yet, many companies continue to use it. Why? Why do we punish project teams for being over budget or behind schedule when we know it’s the process that’s broken?

We need to shift our mindset from project focus, to product focus.

Product focus is a value driven, adaptive process. It doesn’t punish teams for change. It anticipates change and even welcomes it.

In a value driven approach, cost is fixed, and features are estimated. It’s the reverse of a plan driven approach. Investment is made at the product level, not a project level. People are dedicated to teams, and the teams stay intact.

This move from project focus to product focus is not pie in the sky. It’s not for small tech firms only. Target, for example, has completely shifted to a product focus model. They get it, and they’re not alone. Many large companies are organizing cross functional teams around products. They are bringing IT and business people together to focus on delivering business outcomes.

If your company is going Agile, ask yourself, are you ready to move on from traditional project management? Are you ready to no longer have a PMO? Are you ready to change? If yes, then it’s time to embrace a product focused mindset. If no, then continue using Waterfall, but don’t call it Agile. 

About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an Agile Delivery Consultant and IT Project/Program Manager. Follow Mike on Twitter@MikeMacIsaac or visit Mike’s blog.

Fall’s Reminder That Change is Necessary

Living in Minnesota, fall is my favorite season. The crisp air, leaves changing colors and smells of chimney’s. It brings back cherished childhood memories. I remember the excitement of playing outside with friends after school. The closer it got to Halloween, the pinnacle of childhood bliss, the more fun we had.

Today, fall reminds me that change is necessary. As the leaves drop, it’s a good time to reflect inward. What changes do I need to make?  Leadership is about change, and often the most important thing to change, is ourselves.


About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the owner and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an Agile Delivery Consultant and IT Project/Program Manager. Follow Mike on Twitter@MikeMacIsaac or visit Mike’s blog.




Have the courage to change

courage to change

Change is necessary, but difficult. Whether in our personal lives or in business, we all encounter the need for change, and most of us will struggle. Why is it that change is so difficult? The biggest reason is pain. With change comes pain, and people and organizations do not like pain, so they avoid it.

If it was easy to workout and diet, nobody would be overweight. If it was a breeze to change an unhealthy business culture, all companies would be candidates for Forbes top places to work. Change is hard work, and it’s uncomfortable.

Since change is necessary, we must confront pain, and to confront pain, we need courage.

Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. I would add that courage is not the absence of fear, it is taking action in the face of it.

If you are embarking on a change within your organization, I hope you will have to courage to press on. There may be nothing more difficult than changing a system.

In Machiavelli’s “A Perspective” he writes “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones. “

Machiavelli may be right about the difficulty in changing a system, but it doesn’t mean change is not doable and worth it. Yes change is difficult and painful, but you can persevere if you have courage.

Have the courage to change.

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