Three Books on Agile Management

Finally all three books that I planned in my series on agile management are published. With these books I want to state my view on agility and assist the reader in implementing agile governance.

I’ve watched my whole life as Swedish and European industry went into decline, due to slow product development and few new launched products. Instead, companies have spent time on cost-down projects, minor product up-dates and on moving production to low-cost countries. But still there are many big and urgent problems to be solved in our world, e.g. how to produce cheap and clean energy, how to store energy, how to detect and fight infections, how to produce sustainable food. And it is not up to the politicians to find the answers; it is the engineers and the businessmen who should to come up with technical and commercial solutions and put them into production.

I believe that our way of organizing companies today hampers our success in product development. Agility has become a key word in the search of organizations that can execute faster. The agile movement has invented many smart methods and fruitful ideas. But they have so far failed to connect the operational work with strategic design and strategic decision-making. When agile models are implemented only in the projects, the management team soon loses control. It’s time for them to take back the initiative and rejuvenate product architecture, strategic road maps and a vision for the future.

The risk now is that the good parts in agility are thrown away when more control is required. But the solution is not to build a bureaucracy with extensive rules and dotted lines. Instead we have to go back to what agility actually is and implement methods and organizations that are agile for real, balancing between resilience and adaptability both on strategic and operational level. We have to include first and foremost the management team and product management to adopt agile methods, so that the business is able to create effects on the market, take advantage of the opportunities that arise and thrive long term.

Let me take a quick look back in time to the days when the Agile Manifesto was written. This is important because ideas are always solutions to the problems at hand. The four core values in the manifesto don’t state anything about formulating and communicating strategies, simply because that was not a core problem at that time. The Agile Manifesto focuses on speed in operational management, how to quickly execute projects within a strategic framework taken for granted.

But when working with product development, it soon becomes clear that when accelerating operational development, strategic work and decision-making must be accelerated even more. And so far there have been very few attempts to support agile governance on the strategic level, except from Parmatur Pulse. And that’s why you, as a potential agile manager, should read my books.

The three books cover different areas of agile management. Here is how they relate.

Agile Multi-Project Management is written for those of you who work in project businesses. The key question is how to plan, start, execute and keep good progress in projects. The answer is that you have to keep your focus on the management level. The book shows how portfolio, product and resource management are performed in Parmatur Pulse and points out what makes the pulse-concept so different from other multi-project models, and so powerful.

The Principles of Agile Management digs much deeper. What exactly is agility? And how can we understand agility from a scientific perspective? Once you understand the basic laws of nature that govern agility, you are free to be really agile, to choose methods that suit the current situation. Agile principles are formulated that in the end are compiled in our advice to the agile manager. The book also contains an agile self-assessment. Are your business truly agile or have you just ticked the boxes?

Parmatur Pulse contains basic methods that can be used to implement agile governance in strategy and development. The book provides more guidelines and explanations than what is presented on our website. The methods cover management of projects, the product portfolio, the project portfolio, resources and short assignments.

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