Ever hear the expression “the light at the end of the tunnel is a train”? Well if you’re a project manager faced with a transition to Agile, it probably feels like that! The good news is that it’s not a train, it’s a rainbow.
Transitioning to Agile is a change. A big change. Change produces anxiety because our brains are hardwired to resist change. And if you’re a Project Manager who sat through a Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Product Owner class, you probably noticed that there are no PMs in Scrum. Not only that, the responsibilities of the PM are divided up between ScrumMaster, Product Owner, and Team. So now you’re probably wondering, “Will I still have a job?”
Yes, you will. Not only that, your job will change in wonderful ways, hence the “rainbow” instead of the train. Agile in general and Scrum in particular will allow you to focus on what you do best. The catch is that you will have to transition to a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or Agile Program Manager. Which one is best for you?
The ScrumMaster helps the team help themselves. As a ScrumMaster you will facilitate the Scrum ceremonies (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, & Retrospective), assist the team in removing impediments, create big visible information radiators, and coach the team on Scrum and Agile techniques. Instead of asking the team to do things for you, you’ll focus on how to help the team. This role is great for PMs who like to help people do the best they can do. Many ScrumMasters go on to become coaches.
The Product Owner is the sole representative of the ultimate end users. As a PO you lead the ongoing requirements discovery, elaboration, review, and acceptance processes. You will prioritize features and determine the contents of the release based on team velocity, value of features, and budget. PMs who are great at managing budgets and stakeholders do very well as Product Owners.
ScrumMasters and Product Owners work closely together. The SM is team-focused while the PO is stakeholder focused. But what about large multi-phased projects involving multiple teams, especially non-technical teams like Manufacturing & Distribution? This is the natural space for the Agile Program Manager.
Do you like bringing together disparate teams to deliver a single solution, i.e Concept-to-Cash? Working with product development, marketing, manufacturing, IT, help desk, sales, finance, legal, etc.? Then you are exactly what is needed for Agile Program Management. While the PO is working with stakeholders and the ScrumMaster with the technical teams, you’re the one to bring it all together. You’re also the one to keep an eye on the production support processes and training.
So which role appeals to you the most? In my experience, PMs already have a natural inclination towards one of these roles. There are PMs who dread dealing with stakeholders and would rather just work with engineering. I’ve known PMs who handle stakeholders effortlessly but struggle with developers. And I’ve known many PMs who are natural integrators that can see the whole better than those around them.
Given that most if not all of us, already have a natural disposition towards ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or Agile Program Manager — why not go through the tunnel and work in the rainbow? Life’s much better over here.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a reward. When registering for any Agile Raven class, enter coupon code “Rainbow” and get an immediate $25.00 discount. Just my way of saying thanks for reading the entire post. You did read all of it, right?