Agile Project Management – From theory to PRACTICE

Published on Tuesday 30 June 2015 by in News with no comments

….Our latest ‘Agile – Project management’ game is in development at this moment. We have a team of global SME’s helping us with the ‘User stories’ for game development. We have adopted an ‘iterative’ approach…this week a global team got together for a ‘stand-up meeting’ to review progress and select from the product backlog…






Why an Agile – Project management?


The Market Challenge:

As business managers demand ever more and ever faster deployment of new Information technology to support and enable business functionality, we see Agile behaviors, concepts and techniques becoming increasingly popular. Agile offers the promise of ‘flexibility’ and ‘time-to-market’ yet at the same time it introduces new risks. ‘A faster time to fail’ is what one cynical IT manager said to me.

Adopting Agile isn’t simply adopting a new set of techniques, instruments, tools. It is embracing a new way of working, a cultural shift”.

The success and failure rests principally with ‘people’ and the way they ‘behave’. Already more than 70% of IT projects are over time, budget or fail to deliver the right quality, and this is using Project management methods such as Prince2 and PMI! If we suddenly all leap onto the Agile bandwagon of ‘self organizing’ teams with limited control or governance many fear that things will get worse.

A recent APM report ‘Conditions for project success’ reveals that ‘while the key to success is known… practice is often not applied’. As a result ‘nearly 80% of projects fail to wholly meet their objectives’. The APM report also revealed that ‘87% rated competent project teams as critical/very important’ and ‘88% said effective governance was important’.

The Response to the Market Challenge: Agile and Project management Education

The question is how can we transition to Agile approaches without introducing more risk, failure and potential business damage, and how can we enable the ‘people’ to develop the right skills and behaviors AND apply them accordingly.

Axelos has just launched their ‘Agile Prince2’ best practice set of offerings and APMG is offering its Agile Project management portfolio. We see many of our ATO partners lining up to adopt one or both of these portfolios to add to their Best Practice educational offerings.





As Richard Pharro states in an Agile Project management whitepaper – ‘Agile project management enables organizations to gain the benefits of an Agile approach without introducing unnecessary risks. This ensures that ‘going Agile’ becomes a measured and balanced change keeping what is good in the current organization and retaining good practices around project management and delivery whilst gaining the benefits of a more agile way of working

As Mike Acaster Axelos PPM portfolio manager stated in a blog entitled ‘When world’s stop colliding and start collaborating’ – ‘The growth in people and organizations using agile approaches and techniques has raised its profile; and while welcoming it, the community has mooted the point of giving agile more rigour. Though we’re not accusing agile of living up to the “Fr-agile” moniker used by some, having a relationship with PRINCE2’s project governance and control qualities will go some way to reassuring its critics. Above all, we see PRINCE2 and agile as complementary rather than adversarial in the bigger picture of collaborative working’.

The Solution: Translating Theory to Practice

So we can expect to see a surge of investment in Agile PM training in an effort to gain new knowledge. In terms of the above definition of ‘knowledge’ we are very good at providing the education and the theoretical understanding as is evidenced by the massive amount of best practice certificates, yet we are poor at translating the theory into practice – as the % of successful projects shows us.





Having the theory is one thing. But as the APM research revealed it is all about applying it’

In GamingWorks we believe that ‘learning by doing’ or ‘experiential learning’ such as a business simulation game when coupled together with the education can help translate theory into practice in a safe environment rather than in a live working environment where failure can have serious consequences.

Not only can a simulation be used to test and apply theory but it can also be used to gain buy-in, overcome resistance and also to capture agreed improvements to take away”.

Agile – Project management simulation: Theory to Practice

GamingWorks is engaging with, and mobilizing SME’s from our global partner base to help us develop this latest ‘Agile – Project management’ simulation based upon our Challenge of Egypt Project game. The simulation will have modules to support both ‘Agile Prince2’ as well as ‘Agile Project management’.

How will a simulation help?

In the formal education courses delegates will learn the theory about Agile behaviors (such as collaborative, self-organizing, customer focused), concepts (such as incremental deployment, shorter time focus, limiting work in progress) and techniques (such as user stories, time-boxing, burn charts).

Lots of new theory and a shiny new certificate to hang on the wall”.

However moving towards Agile requires new skills and capabilities for the PM, such as organizing and facilitating workshops, coaching teams to create solutions to project issues together, empowering teams to be self organizing, organizing and facilitating effective stand-up meetings, organizing and leading customer sessions to agree scope. These are skills and capabilities which are difficult to test and practice in a theoretical learning session.

In a simulation they will have to ‘apply’ the theory. They will need to identify and agree the ‘user stories’ as they interview the Pharoah to discover his real needs. Delegates will need to work with a ‘product backlog’, organize, facilitate and run a ‘Stand-up meeting’ – challenged by time constraints and with skeptical colleagues. As each game round progresses delegates will ‘see, feel and experience’ the benefits and the pitfalls associated with using and not using the concepts they have learned.

“This helped us experience all the pitfalls and pain of getting it wrong in one day in a safe environment. If we take this away and use it can not only save us from making the mistakes in reality but improve the success rate of our projects”. Program Director.

Not only can the simulation be used to support Agile – Project management foundation or practitioner classes but it can also be used:

  • as a kick-off instrument in real Agile-Projects – allowing skeptical Project and Agile team members to experience what it will mean and taking the first step in creating a cohesive team and agreeing ways of working.
  • to engage with real ‘product owners’ so that this role also discovers the tasks, roles and responsibilities associated with being a ‘product owner’ and helping with prioritization, decision making and ensuring the RIGHT results are achieved TOGETHER.

You can give people the theory, but they need to see, feel and experience how it will impact and benefit them”.

Here is an example of how one organization who, having already invested in formal PPM training added a simulation game to their portfolio. As one delegate said ‘If we now take away and apply what we discovered about risk management to even 10% of our projects we are talking about preventing wastage, rework and time delays which equates to millions of dollars and thousands of man hours!…

If you are interested in participating in the development, want more information or want to participate in a PILOT of a live Agile – Project management simulation let us know. We will be organizing a series of global events which will be posted under our events calender.

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