Everybody's a Project Manager, Part 4

This is part 4 in a list of key project management tips and techniques. See also part 1, part 2 and part 3.

This, final part, is about the role of the project manager / scrum master in a scrum team.

  • Decisions must be made within an hour.
    • A bad decision is much better than no decision.
    • When solving problems, 1) define the problem, 2) uncover dependancies, 3) look at possible solutions with the scrum team, 4) ask the customer if necessary.
    • Remember the stupid solutions, sometimes they’re the best ones but no-one dare say them out loud.
    • Be honest!
  • Prepare for each iteration (sprint): define or reiterate goals, scope, visions and threats.
    • Make sure the physical surroundings are in order.
    • Make sure any needed software or hardware is available.
    • Double check that your team is the right team and can actually solve the tasks ahead.
    • A good team consists of no more than 7, preferrably all in the same room. Desks with wheels can mobilize you.
  • Projects work out the best if the team is happy and energetic.
    • Change is good.
    • For boring tasks, reiterate the vision and the tasks place in the larger whole.
    • Money can be a motivator, especially for the dead-end tasks.
    • Passionate people transmit their energy to others.
    • Ensure that all tasks are clearly prioritized.
    • Take note of tired project members and give them a day off, or reward them in some other way if you can’t.
  • Beware of these energy-drains:
    • … having too many (or too few) tasks
    • … shifting task priorities or attention
    • … lack of communication
    • … wasted work
    • … uncertainty about project roles
    • … impossible plans
  • A good project manager is like a parent and …
    • … a “firewall” for incoming tasks
    • … helps divide tasks between team members
    • … minimizes wasted time
    • … is generally hands-off and silent and only the tyrant when necessary
    • … lets the team make their own decision and plans
    • … visualizes project progress on walls or via physical means
    • counts to ten
  • As a project manager, DO NOT:
    • … tell the team what to do and how
    • … plan iterations yourself – involve your team!
    • … update the sprint backlog (iteration to-do list) – let each responsible team member do that themselves
  • To ensure discipline in a team, give responsibility to the team.
    • This will give a sense of project ownership to team members.
    • Anticipate an overhead of administration and “fire suppression”. Some times, planning only a 4 day week is necessary, leaving the 5th for the overhead.

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