Agile organization Multi-project management

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.

Cyber Pulse Boards

Cyber Pulse Board

Parmatur Cyber Pulse Board
Parmatur Cyber Pulse Board – Laptop style –

Parmatur Pulse is built to increase interaction between people and hence create an agile decision process in a company. Primarily this interaction takes place at pulse meetings in a pulse room where the participants stand in front of their pulse board. But it is quite common that pulse teams are working on several development sites or that some team members are working from home. So far the solution to connect different locations has been to use a web cam. This works. But remote people have difficulties in really being involved and contribute.


SAFe is not safe

Over the years we have worked with several software companies that use Scrum alongside Parmatur Pulse. Recently SAFe has also appeared in some discussions with potential customers as an alternative to Parmatur Pulse. I can now see the same problems in all these Scrum-companies. These are problems we have never encountered with Parmatur Pulse. It has made me dig deeper and compile my own conclusions and opinions. What is happening in the companies that use Scrum and why has SAFe appeared on the scene?

“You are not supposed to feel safe in product development. It’s your job as engineers to deal with uncertainty and risks involved.”

Key Performance Indicator Lean Product Development Parmatur App

Successful New Product Development

Successful New Product Development is based on a combination of business strategy and business transparency.

Technology companies generally have an R&D department where people work with development. It’s taken for granted, just like having a finance department. But have you, as a manager, really thought about what you want to achieve with the R&D resources? It may seem like a silly question; Of course you know what the R&D department does and why. Or do you?

Key Performance Indicator Parmatur App

Pulse Room in Your Hand

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

In the 1990s, Toyota and Scania developed the Pulse-room concept, or Obeya as it is called in Japan. The pulse room is a solution to the problem with weak management control when organising work as projects. This problem was highlighted by several research programs during the 1980s. The effect of an Obeya was immediate for Toyota; in some few years they were able to develop the hybrid car Prius, and new brands as Lexus and Scion. It took their competitors decades to catch up.

Key Performance Indicator Parmatur App

Project portfolio health check – how do the projects perform and how are the resources utilized?

Project portfolio health check

It is often hard for a management team to get an up to date overview of the company’s projects. The projects tend to slip through the grip because the checkpoints are few and far between, the projects generate largely “invisible” results, and resources go in and out of projects over time.

Agile organization Multi-project management Strategizing

Agile Governance

Principle of Agile Governance

For a business to be agile, it isn’t enough to have agile projects. You also need agile governance that can speed up decision making, deal with overload, queues and deviations, and enable you to work continuously on your strategies.

Agile organization Complexity

Organizational Adaptability

Organizational Adaptability

Product development as an adaptive walk is a new way to organizational adaptability. Predictions far into the future are highly uncertain. Parmatur Pulse supports short lead times and thereby establishes an agile business model.