Do we need agile or Agile?

Four days ago, I started the following discussion on LinkedIn

We keep hearing about the PMBOK Guide sixth edition and that Agile is in every knowledge area. That brings two questions:

  1. Is Agile for ‘most projects most of the time’ and if not, then why is it in the PMBOK Guide in every knowledge area?
  2. If it is ‘most projects most of the time’ and it belongs to the PMBOK Guide, then would we still need PMI-ACP or would the PMP covers the Agile Principles?

Your thoughts?

Click here to link to the post.

In four days, there is more than 8000 views on this topic and numerous comments and responses. Most of the comments focused on the first question on the post and not the second one.

I encourage you to go to the post and read all of the comments, interesting and professional exchange, despite the various and often opposing arguments.

Here is my own summary of the discussions. Of course, this is my personal reading and is influenced by my opinion, although in brief, I tried to convey the views to the best of my ability.

  1. It is critical to distinguish between agile (as in agility, dynamic, flexible) and Agile (as in Agile Manifesto). In this discussion and others like online, we always hear this comment, and it is a valid one.
  1. Most professional who responded agree that agile (as in agility, as a concept; flexibility, adaptability are other terms), is valuable for most projects, most of the time. Further, they have been using these practices before anyone has heard of Agile. For this group, they call the practices the Agilists claims as Agile, progressive elaboration, design development, customer-centric approach, alternative evaluations, fast-tracking, or other terms.
  1. A few respondents think that Agile Practices, is a must for most projects, most of the time. For more info on Agile Practices, the Agile Manifesto is the basic reference.
  1. The Agile supporters, to justify their positions, they end up confusing phases (such as design phase) as projects or programs/portfolios with projects.
  1. We have also heard comments on both extreme from Agile as cancer to Agile is a must.

This debate is like many other debates we have seen on social media, on agile and numerous other project management topics.

The core root cause is that we all claim to know project management but we don’t understand that generic project management should be limited to share common BASIC concepts and not the whole body of knowledge.

There is a clear need for segmentation since:

  • PM in commercial IT might be different from IT for project owners.
  • Also, business projects (internal projects) are significantly different from capital projects.
  • Finally, there are different perspectives between service providers and project owners.

The unfortunate reality is that leading organizations focus on revenue generations rather than clarity. The introduction of Agile Certification is fine – as long as we understand what Agile or agile is!

We see a leading organization shifting more and more into IT Project Management, and that is perfectly alright; their choice. However, if you move into an area of focus, these organizations cannot continue to claim generic and most projects most of the time. Our point is that if Agile is truly for most projects most of the time – show us. If it is not, then keep it out – or – include concepts related to other industries. The interesting thing is that we see Agile being introduced whereas sustainability remains out. Agile is in but best practices are out.

I think organizations, like PMI, were on the right track of being generic. For areas of practice, it is also good to issue supplement like the government extension and construction extension. These are good and should be emphasized and marketed more often; even distributed free for non-members. However, to include Agile and Business Analysis as core project management functions and PBA and ACP as core PM certifications while ignoring certifications for the other areas – it means, time for a name change.

What do you think?




This entry was posted in Applying Project Management and tagged , , , , , on by .

About Mounir Ajam

A Project Management thought leader, who believes that project management touches all people, in all aspects of life; personal and professional.Initiated and led the formation of SUKAD Corp to develop the Uruk PPM Platform.An advocate of real-world, practical and applied project management.Champion of adaptive project management, tailored methods, and organizational project management.Available anywhere in the world to advise executives and organizations on the strategic value of project management. Ready to help organizations build and sustain the Project Management Function and the capacity to lead projects successfully.