Tag Archives: review

Review Project Excellence Baseline

A few weeks ago, I was for a three-day assessment training regarding the IPMA Project Excellence Model in Vilnius, Lithonia. For 3 days, by using action learning we familiarized ourselves with the Project Excellence Model. This model will be used to judge which large and mega-sized projects will receive the project excellence award.

IPMA_PEB_2019__cover_previewThe Project Excellence Model (PEM) is described in the book Project Excellence Baseline for Achieving Excellence in Projects and Programmes. This Project Excellence Model is a great tool for continuous improvement of project or program management in your organization? It’s not a maturity model. The main purpose of the Project Excellence Baseline (PEB) is to describe the concept of excellence in managing projects and programs. It complements the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (IPMA ICB) and the IPMA Organisational Competence Baseline (IPMA OCB).

The book describes a project in its organization’s internal and external context. The concept of project excellence is based on continuous improvement (plan-do-check-act), the role of sustainability and the role of leadership.

The PEM model structure enables easy reporting of the outcomes on all management levels via three levels:

  • Areas: The main components of the model: People & Purpose and Processes & Resources and Project Results
  • Criteria: to enable detailed feedback about the levels of excellence on a particular project
  • Examples: actual practices typically found in excellent projects.

QRC (PEM, 200324)All three areas of the model strongly interact with each other. See the arrows in the figure. This means that none of the areas should be developed in isolation and each of the areas should be actively used to develop excellence in the remaining two. Due to interaction between areas the following business value can be secured: performance, effectiveness and efficiency, reliability, flexibility, continuous improvement, scalability and sustainability.

The People & Purpose area is divided into three criteria: A.1. Leadership & Values; A.2. Objectives & Strategy; A.3. Project Team, Partners & Suppliers.

The Processes & Resources area is divided into two criteria: B.1. Project Management Processes & Resources; B.2. Management of Other Key Processes & Resources.

The Project Results area is divided into four criteria: C.1. Customer Satisfaction; C.2. Project Team Satisfaction; C.3. Other Stakeholder Satisfaction; C.4. Project Results and Impact on Environment.

In a separate chapter the assessment of project excellence, the assessment process itself, the role and competences of project excellence assessors, the scoring approach and the project profile are described in detail. The project profile consists of three general scores, respectively for People & Purpose, Processes & Resources and Project Results. Examples of conclusions after assessing could be leadership driven projects with low process maturity, process driven project with low leadership and/or sense of purpose and, balanced projects combining great leadership and a strong sense of purpose with a strong process culture.

In the annexes you get a very detailed description of the Project Excellence Model and the scoring tables for the model areas and criteria. The last annex explains the IPMA Global Project Excellence Award assessment and its benefits for stakeholders, applicants and for finalists and winners.

Conclusion: Not only a book for assessors or applicants of the IPMA Project Excellence award but for project sponsors, project or program managers or PMO/Centre of Excellence staff too who can use it as a great tool for continuous improvement of project or program management.

To download: Project Excellence Baseline

Introduction to the Project Excellence Baseline

AGILE NXT 3rd edition

AgileNXT_Magazine_3In this third edition of AGILE NXT — a magazine designed by Xebia’s thought leaders and experts to inspire and inform you, offers 15 new insights:

  • The Ultimate Model for Managing Performance in Agile Environments (Daniel Burm). The Agile performance management model consists of five main building blocks: purpose, strategy and goals, whole system alignment, performance models and metrics, coordinated performance management routines and high-performance culture and behavior.
  • Schiphol’s Customer Value Takes Flight With A New Mindset (Esmé Valk and Ellen Barree). The program is all about changing mindsets and behaviors bottom up, without having a structural blueprint thought out in advance.
  • Stop Focusing on Agile & Start Adding Real Value (Kevin Bakker). In many organizations, Agile and Scrum have become container concepts—their true definition and purpose forgotten. So, it makes sense to regularly reflect with your whole team on the what and ways of working Agile. As an organization, keep asking, “what problem do we want to solve?” Does your approach add the most value, or are there other options?
  • Need Business Agility? Boost Your IT Capabilities (Bart Bouwers). 5 capabilities are explored: Build the Right Product, Continuous Delivery & Release on Demand, Detect & Recover Fast, Easy Infra & Containers, and Always Compliant & Always Secure.
  • Change the Way You Change – A result-Driven Growth Hack (Ron Meyer and Paul Immerzeel). Based on an agile transformation that is not yet showing results, the sponsor asks himself the following questions: What do I sense?, What do I feel?, What do I think?, What do I want?, and, What can I do about it?
  • Agile Doesn’t Create Future-Proof Organizations (Riët Broekhuizen and Ellen Barree). The 4th revolution requires radical innovation, where organizations experiment with new revenue models and structures, automate all repetitive actions, eliminate bureaucratic processes and employ the latest technologies in an open and transparent environment.
  • Digital Business: Make it Happen, and Make it Stick! Digital Success Requires a Healthy Dose of Common Sense (Edwin Oldenbeuving). There are seven skills for life and work in the 21st century: cooperation, communication, problem solving, self-reliance, creativity, critical thinking and social and cultural skills.
  • Portfolio Management – Through Different Glasses (Jarl Meijer). Five Tips to Reduce Portfolio Management Complexity are discussed: Nurture a culture of trust and transparency; Scale down to independent units of max. 125 people; Provide clear company-wide goals and priorities; Focus portfolio management sessions on strategic choices and solutions for impediments; Drive performance growth and predictability.
  • Cloud Migration Will Disrupt Ops as You Know It (Mark van Holsteijn). Three strategies for cloud migration and their effect on IT Operations are explained: rehost, redesign and re-platform.
  • Artificial Intelligence for Leadership decision-making (Rik de Groot). AI supports decision-making by: Analyzing the situation based on data, trends, historical information, and information from outside the organization; Giving leaders insights and options; Providing fact-based information; Looking at the big picture instead of local optimization.
  • You Can’t Escape Team Behavior (Anne Davidse and Marianne Pot). The escape room creates a bubble within which you can better understand team behavior. By analyzing how individuals’ function in a high-pressure team challenge, you can identify opportunities for improvement, spot natural leaders, and build trust.
  • Deep Democracy: Listening to the Wisdom of the Minority (Kenny Baas-Schwegler). Checking in, spreading perceptions (listen to all options, share other options and different viewpoints, and raise hands for recognition), deep democratic voting (majority vote is needed, sincere apology to those members who aren’t part of the majority, collect their arguments and vote again and repeat cycle if there is no full consensus), go fishing (make explicit agreements with each other, everyone says what they have to say), equality in differences (vote again).
  • Scoring an “A” for Agile in Architecture (Winfried Scheulderman). An overview of characteristics of a modern IT architecture process and six considerations to take into account if you want to introduce modern architecture.
  • The Agility Gap: What’s Really Behind It? (Daria Nozhkina). When an organization primarily focuses on its financial priorities, it directly impacts its approach to Agile transformation, which, in turn, influences the transformation’s success.
  • Common Sense Scaling: The 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Delivering Value with Multiple Teams (Evelien Acun-Roos). Start small, involve, change habits and behavior, measure and seek knowledge and experience.

Conclusion: a mix of articles. Some articles are too short to make a difference. Other articles definitely offer new insights. In total it’s definitely worthwhile to download and read the magazine.

To download: www.agilenxt.com


Review Formula X

9781950367221-480x600Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen are the authors of Formula X – How to reach extreme acceleration in your organization? It’s a business fable that shows which steps you should take to drastically accelerate the time-to-market in your own organization.

In this novel, we follow Ronald Verhulst, the director of a major kitchen manufacturer who is confronted with an advertisement, placed by the major shareholder promising that kitchens can be operational within two weeks from order. If it takes longer, you get the kitchen for free. This sounds disruptive if you know that the current time-to-market is twelve or more weeks. Based on a number of advices from a Formula I team, Ronald shows how to translate these lessons learned into his own organization and to implement them step by step. Do you have any idea how often a Formula I team evaluates the way they operate and how many improvements are being made between two races?

But before Ronald actually gets to work on this advice, he started to work with the Full Control Consulting Group. They helped Ronald to implement Total Efficiency Management with which measurable processes can be accelerated. Completely in line with his own adage “Trust is good, but control is better!” This approach didn’t work, but it took some time to gain that insight. He sends the Consulting Group away and started with the lessons learned from the Formula I team.

QRC (Formula X, 200313) v1.0To Download: QRC (Formula X, 200313) v1.0

From the conversation with the driver and the team boss of the Formula I team, Ronald manages to distil six lessons (the authors call this the FASTER model consisting of six parts, the initial letters together form the word “FASTER”):

  • Focus and clarity – a clear and inspiring goal that works as a compass
  • Accelerate decisions – reversible decisions and distributed authority
  • Simplify – the art of omission and simplification
  • Team Engagement – intrinsic motivation, autonomy and ownership
  • Elementary physics – the age-old basic laws for speed and acceleration
  • Rhythmic learning– learn through a cadence of recurring interaction moments

In the book we get the translation of all these lessons to the kitchen manufacturer and we see the effect but also the struggle to win the organization for taking these steps. In the beginning we see a silo organization in which every department in itself works efficiently, but ultimately it is all about the result of all steps together. By learning on the basis of the aforementioned lessons and making changes based on them, the lead time is improved step by step. In the end, a final drastic step is taken. The ‘walls’ between the departments such as sales, planning, purchasing, production, installment and customer contact are broken down. Multidisciplinary teams are created that are responsible from the first customer contact to the final delivery of a kitchen. It may be clear where it ultimately leads. There are now teams that are able to install kitchens very quickly in a fixed cadence, with a lot of satisfied customers and a happy large shareholder as a result.

Conclusion: The chosen approach in which we learn from a Formula I team and apply it to a kitchen manufacturer shows that you can do a lot in a non-IT company too to improve your organization’s agility and what this means for you in your role as manager ( e.g. letting go and decentralized decision making). Pouring it into a business fable makes it fun and easy to read. Personally, I find the description of the current situation and “improving” through control steps too long. This covers more than half of the book and by shortening that part, the book could have gained in strength. Nevertheless, the book is definitely worth reading and offers plenty food for thought and potential experiences!

While writing this review they came to replace my boiler. A team of 2 mechanics arrived at 8 AM. They were ready around noon. Small problem: the digital thermostat had an error message. No connection with the boiler and therefore no heating! They failed to solve it. A connector between central heating and thermostat turned out to be broken. This happened them quite often when replacing a central heating boiler. However, this energy supplier had a separate team for this. After a 30-minute call, they told me that I would be called back within half an hour. That indeed happened and the team was due to arrive that afternoon between 1 and 5 PM. Around 4 PM another mechanic came with a new connector. Solved in five minutes. Suppose this energy supplier had read this book, they would probably have integrated this thermostat team with the heating installers after evaluating these types of problems. Many phone calls, an extra ride, and the turnaround time at my place would have accelerated by 50% and as a result a cost reduction for the supplier!

A week later I receive a letter for the yearly maintenance of my boiler. This letter still involved maintenance of my old boiler. After a few phone calls, it became clear that the back office had not yet made the changes. Another example of different teams / silos. In the meantime, I have received three more letters about scheduling regular maintenance, so I have to give them a next call and bring this book to the attention.

To order (managementboek): Formula X

To order (Amazon.com): Formula X

How to accelerate decisions: 

Review DARE

9789493056183-480x600-2DARE – The mindset for successful innovators in the digital age written by Eric de Groot and Matthijs Rosman is a recipe to innovate and grow your business.

DARE stands for defiance, adventure, realism, endurance. It helps those who want to innovate in the ‘digital age’ but are hesitating to take the first steps.

The book is built around ten key more or less connected, frequently asked questions of innovation and growth in the digital age, clustered in three parts (following the three stages of growth initiate, create and scale):

  1. Do I know what I don’t know? Understand trends in technology and culture.
  2. Am I still in business in 5 years’ time? Which value is your company adding in 5 years’ time? To whom?
  3. Can I kick it? What is the best approach to reinvent your business?
  4. Who are my growth BFFs (best friends forever) and BEFs (best enemies forever)? What is the profile of ideal innovation partners?
  5. Am I willing to experiment or die? Embed a framework to get organized for exponential growth.
  6. What are the rules of the game? Create a growth culture that helps sustain new ideas.
  7. Do I have the basics in order? Learn how to make room for innovation.
  8. Do I go by facts or fiction? Discover that data is the key element to nurture growth.
  9. How do I turn on the growth engine? Learn best practices on how to successfully scale.
  10. How to achieve full maturity? How to lever for change.

At the end of the chapters a comparison is made with Leonardo da Vinci’s actions, way of working or thinking. The authors see Leonardo as the quintessential DARE practitioner.

And if these ten questions are not enough, every part starts with some rarely asked questions to get you started and keep you going.

QRC (DARE, 200303) v1.0To download: QRC (DARE, 200303) v1.0

Initiate captures the first four questions. It is about understanding what is happing around us. It is about situational awareness; trying to figure out how your organization is impacted and what your response should be. The (digital) transformation is not new but a fact of life. Some relevant megatrends which are discussed: changing demographics, globalization & shifting economic power, rise of the global middle class, accelerating urbanization, climate change and resource scarcity, privacy 2.0, unbanked, deep fake, quantum computing and technology. All these megatrends have a profound impact on industries and businesses. Think about customer centricity, shift from ownership to usage, servitization, platform business, connectivity and data, dark commerce and production on demand.

Create covers the next four questions. It deals with the process that puts the customer first in your transformation process. It explores the need for experimenting in ‘controlled’ spaces with a blended approach of design thinking, lean startup and an agile way of working. Managers and employees need to make five fundamental shifts: from control to enable, self-organizing, from individual to team, from long sequential steps to short iterative cycles, from management lead to customer lead and from first time right to celebrate failures (and learn from them). Marketeers should learn the new 5 P’s in marketing: Positioning, Partitioning, Probing, Prioritizing and Participating.

Scale is the last part and answers the last two questions. Scale refers to the making of a true commitment to innovative growth and daring to make decisions with drastic consequences. Scaling is making the next step in new markets – beyond the early adopters – in new customer groups and geographic. As you move from ideation to execution, there are five key areas that you need to focus on in scaling up your new venture: market, product, process, organization and finance. Sustainable growth is about mastering all the stages, deploying the various tactics within with extreme velocity and persistence (awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue and referral).

The book ends with the innovation readiness benchmark. Eight groups with, in total 60 detailed questions: innovation strategy, customer centricity, organizational agility, innovation portfolio management, organization of innovation, innovation skills and competences, innovation performance and disruption of risk.

Conclusion: Definitely not a theoretical book but inspirational and practical with many real-life examples! It helps you to diagnose and innovate your own business. A must read for those who want to survive in this disruptive era.

To order (managementboek): DARE

to order (Amazon): DARE

Video Dare Mindset

The International PMO standard from AIPMO

aipmo-logo-1AIPMO is developing the first ‘leading’ international PMO standard based on a combination of research findings and expert knowledge. Developing an international standard is big responsibility because it can create or destroy value depending on the content, how it is written and how the content is interpreted. For example, if an industry is in a mess and you standardize a mess, you keep it in a mess. A leading standard is very different to a lagging standard because the content of leading standard is taken from evidence-based research of the most successful organizations in the world, put this into a framework and tests it for 3 years. Over this period, it is improved and optimized and then and only then is it written into an official standard. Lagging standards are based on what the author team knows and it is written into a standard and published without testing.

Ultimately it can lead to a Master and full MSc and DBA from SBS Swiss Business School.
There are three core certifications (IPMO-F, IPMO-P and IPMO-E) that provide in total 15 days of training, workshops, real case studies, focus groups, coaching and exams. Other PMO certifications such as Axelos’ P3O or Value Ring’s PMO-CP do not compare to AIPMO’s core PMO certifications especially in terms of approach, content, structure and outcome. AIPMO’s core PMO certifications covers much more!

To support the certifications and running or assessing a PMO there will be 7 core publications (still work in progress). In the coming period, I will review these publications and use my blog to inform you about those publications.

IPMO Certifications

IPMO-FIPMO-F (Foundation, 5 days): Focus on the PMO team member and project team member:

  • Understand how PMOs fit into the world of projects, programs, and portfolios
  • Understand the benefits of viewing PMOs in terms of services
  • Know what are PMO capabilities, how they are constructed in terms of competencies, tools, and techniques
  • Understand the PMO lifecycle framework and which phases and processes are most relevant for a PMO team member
  • Learn the key PMO tools and techniques including templates you can take back to your organization
  • Understand what are the key documents PMO use to run, monitor and control PMOs
  • How to be confident in knowing what to do in the majority of PMO configurations.

IPMO-PIPMO-P (Practitioner, 5 days): Focus on the PMO manager, project manager and functional manager – for one PMO:

  • Extend your understanding of project, project and portfolio management disciplines in context of PMOs
  • Understand how to setup and run a successful PMO using AIPMO’s strategic lifecycle framework. The PMO could be a single project based PMO, to enterprise-wide PMO based
  • Develop your own PMO’s Vision, Mission, Strategy and Services (1-day workshop)
  • Describe the different roles of PMOs in a single and networked context and across different levels of the organization
  • Discuss group experiences to share knowledge
  • Understand PMO success factors and progress you journal to become a competent PMO director/PMO manager/team member/consultant.

IPMO-EIPMO-E (Expert, 5 days): Focus on the PMO Director, PM Director and consultants:

  • Extend your understanding of project, project and portfolio management disciplines in context of PMOs
  • Understand how to setup and run successful PMOs ranging from a single project based PMO to enterprise-wide PMOs based on AIPMO’s Strategic PMO Lifecycle Framework
  • Design organizational PMO topologies and PMO Service topologies
  • Discuss group experiences to share knowledge
  • Understand PMO success factors and progress in your journey to become a competent PMO director/PMO manager/team member/consultant
  • Become confident and motivated to mentor others in getting the most out of PMOs.


  • PMO Services and Capabilities
  • PMO Principles
  • Project, Program, Portfolio Principles
  • Latest Research on Single to Enterprise-Wide PMOs
  • From Single to Enterprise-Wide PMOs
  • PMO Standard (AIPMO’s Body of Knowledge)
  • PMO tools & Techniques

AIPMO book coversNot all books are published yet. AIPMO produced the world’s first PMO Principles Booklet in 2017. The first book I reviewed in 2020 will be published in the coming months.

Review PMO Services and Capabilities

The book PMO Services and Capabilities is written by Stuart Dixon and Dr Robert Joslin. This book is unique as it addresses in a systematic and structured way to explain for each PMO service including the associated attributes how to implement service. There are over 200 PMO services described in this book. The book is based on a three-level categorization system that allowed services to be grouped (service groups) with a service domain. A service domain is related to an area of experience. There are 22 service domains explained.


Domain Design Operate Monitor
Administration Administration Events

PPM Admin

Benefits management Benefits framework Benefits identification Benefits realization
Capacity and capability management Capability design Capability operations

Capacity operations

Capability monitoring

Capacity monitoring

Change control Change control planning Change control operations Change control monitoring
Change management Change management design
Configuration management Configuration management design Configuration management operations Configuration management monitoring
Consultancy Consultancy service

Consultancy wisdom

Financial management Financial design Financial monitoring Financial operations
Governance Governance Design Governance Operation
Integration Integration
Issue Management Issue planning Issue resolution Issue monitoring
Knowledge and Innovation Innovation Operations
Knowledge management Knowledge management design Knowledge management capture

Knowledge management dissemination

Knowledge management innovation

Knowledge management monitoring
Methodologies Method design Method operations
PMO development Career development

PMO design

People development

PMO leadership

PMO management

PMO monitoring
Portfolio management Portfolio design Portfolio operations Portfolio monitoring
PPM Tool support PPM tool design PPM tool operations
Quality management Quality design Quality operations Quality monitoring
Risk management Risk planning Risk assessment

Risk identification

Risk response

Risk monitoring
Schedule management Scheduling Design Scheduling Operations Scheduling Monitoring
Stakeholder management Communications design

Stakeholder design

Communications operations

Stakeholder operations

Communications monitoring
Supplier management Supplier management design Supplier management operations Supplier management monitoring

As stated, each domain is divided up into one or more service groups (approximately 70). A service group is related to one of the 3 main activity types that the PMO is expected to do:

  • Design – a PMO can provide the standards, tools, templates, processes, procedures, help, guidance, framework that defines how work will operate within that particular service domain
  • Operate – a PMO can operate (or perform) some of the work on behalf of other people within the project (program or portfolio) team. If the PMO does not perform this service then, if this is performed at all, then this will be done by another member of the team
  • Monitor – a PMO can review the work done by others (or even other parts of the PMO) and provide and independent quality assessment and check. They can provide reporting across the service domain and highlight items that require escalation.

Not all of the PMO activities fall neatly into the 3 groupings. For some of the services the operate activity is split up into different groups. Where this has been done it has been for ease of comprehension as it fits more naturally into how the service domain operates.

Within each service group there are one or more services. A service is the lowest level of offering that a PMO can provide. Each service has 2 audiences, although only one of those may read the book:

  • Each service is described for the PMO who will be delivering the service. It describes what the service is, how it can be delivered, who is involved in delivering it along with some detailed hints and tips. The PMO capabilities needed to fulfill this service section lists the competences and techniques and generic tools. The related services section describes other services that the PMO may want to consider when putting together their service catalog.
  • The service is described from the perspective of the recipient of the service. What can they expect to get from this service and why would they want the PMO to be able deliver this for them.

Conclusion: I have never seen such a complete overview of PMO services. It is structured as a reference work and will bring a lot of value for those involved in PMO’s. Reading the title, I was expecting explanations of the related PMO capabilities too but I understand this will be addressed in the next version of the book. What you get are lists of competencies and techniques and generic tools. Just the names and nothing more. For the tools I can understand this because there is a separate PMO Tools & Techniques book. I don’t see a separate competences book, so this maybe something to include in the second print or as a separate book (I am aware that the PMO Flash mob in the UK is working on a PMO competences book, maybe this book can be used). This book is already more than 700 pages! And that brings me to another point. Some of the services are too small and detailed. I think it makes sense to analyze if each service can be delivered autonomously by a PMO. If it can’t, integrate it with the related service and remove it as a separate service.

As mentioned, the book uses a division around the 3 main activity types (design, operate, monitor). If I look how I structured PMO’s in Europe and Asia you could also think about a division between services offered by a permanent PMO (offering portfolio management services, Center of Excellence services and setting up, sourcing and closing temporary PMO’s to support a project or program) and the specific services offered by those temporary PMO’s. In the construction industry they group services in a different way too. Probably you have to create your own groupings when building your own PMO and setting up your own service catalog.

Services to create the permanent PMO (e.g. designing portfolio manager job descriptions) are in my opinion not real services but part of the process to build your permanent PMO. At this moment I am not aware if this journey will be covered by one of the other books. If not, it makes sense to include it one of the books or create an additional book covering this.

I am looking forward to the next AIPMO books. If these other books offer the same kind of views, ideas, details, tips, tricks and case studies then I think this initiative will be very important and of huge value for the PMO community.

At this moment there are no plans to publish this PMO Services and Capabilities
book outside of being in the AIPMO membership section and on-line.

In a next post I will review the PMO Principles book (available on Amazon) and look at some other more specialist AIPMO certifications and I will include a short survey to understand if there is demand for these AIPMO training classes and certifications in the Netherlands.

Overseeing 135 book reviews, what stands out?

I provided book reviews for all eight issues of a Dutch Project Management Magazine (Vakblad Projectmanagement). I used, for these eight reviews, book reviews that I wrote for this blog and www.managementboek.nl. On request of this Dutch PM magazine, I was asked whether one or more common threads could be discovered in all these underlying books. Since the first issue of this magazine appeared in 2017, I took the approximately 135 reviews that I posted on my blog in 2017-2019 as a starting point.

I have used the keywords from my conclusions of the reviews to generate a word cloud.

word cloud 135 boeken

If we look at the word cloud, a number of things stand out.

A lot has been written about frameworks. In my Bird’s eye view on the agile forest article I already describe and position approximately 70 agile frameworks. It now even contains a number of frameworks that help you achieve a more agile, organization-wide culture to support your agile delivery framework implementation.

The reviewed books in which a framework is central are all about project / product delivery frameworks. If I reviewed books describing the same framework, they are listed as separate frameworks in the word cloud, such as Scrum, DevOps and PRINCE2 and enlarging the word itself.

Many books are about business agility, culture and / or agile transition. And all these books indicate that the framework used does not really matter when achieving more agility. It is about accepting agile values ​​and principles throughout the organization (from top to floor). Think of organizations that do not trust their PO or do not give them a mandate, management that is not prepared to move decision-making as low as possible in the organization or organizations that do not consider the speed at which competitors develop (incrementally) or act as innovators and / or market disruptors. And all this in a world defined by the four-letter word VUCA (Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity).

Another topic that stands out is portfolio management. Here too the focus is on agile portfolio management. But that does not alter the fact that, in addition to agile product development, there is still a need for more traditional project approaches and hybrid projects that include both (permanent) agile delivery teams and temporary (business change) teams. I expect that there will be more attention (read new books) in the coming period for hybrid or bimodal portfolio management (see also my blog about bimodal portfolio management).

Roles, competences and skills are central in many books. A number of books focus on the Product Owner, their techniques to be used and a book devoted to the most important competence in my view, namely saying no by the PO. Various books on the project manager, the sponsor and leadership were reviewed too. Apart from a few books about team coaching and teams, I have not seen any books specifically written for the Scrum Master.

Finally, I pick out one last topic. You can’t make it up that crazy or there is a canvas and accompanying book written for it. I name a few: project canvas, change canvas, stakeholder management canvas, portfolio canvas, business model canvas, team canvas, change canvas, et cetera. And that reminds me of my first book I had written more than 10 years ago about project management building block documentation in which a one-pager was central (and still is, see my recent AgilePM documentation blog).

In short, the most important common thread through these 135 reviewed books is agiliy. I wonder if 2020 will change this.

For more details on these 135 book reviews, see:

The SCRUM Fieldbook

9780525573210-480x600J.J. Sutherland wrote The SCRUM Fieldbook – A master Class on Accelerating Performance, Getting Results, and Defining the Future. I would say a virtual master class build around a backlog of approximately 40 items and clustered in 10 groups. Every chapter is dedicated to one group.

The first clusters of backlog items are related to the Agile Manifesto and the usage of Scrum itself. Important but the information can be found in other books too. The other clusters will move you into the master class. Have a look at some examples from the book related to specific backlog items:

  • Decision latency as a result of a study from The Standish Group. How much time is wasted waiting for a decision to be made? Measure your meetings. More than 40% of decisions made in meetings are overturned. Think about the last time you or your organization faced a crisis. Could you have acted more quickly? How could you change your decision-making process next time?
  • Too much structure, too much processes will have a negative impact on agility. If you have just enough structure to ride the edge of chaos, that’s where interesting things happen. Creativity blossoms and can be channeled. Ideas are generated and applied. There is freedom of expression but also some controls in place to focus.
  • A structural reorganization emerged as the goal shifted from output (making sure everybody was busy) to outcome (getting to done).
  • Know the power of no. Choices have to be made.
  • Find your ba. It’s a shared space between individuals that is the foundation for knowledge creation. When you are in a partnership or participating on a team or teams aligned on a single goal, you create something larger than the sum of the parts.
  • Your structure is your culture. And your culture is your limits. A rigid structure begets a rigid cultural and product architecture.
  • You need to create an environment that ensures the Scrum values are present. This is when you strike out at the bureaucracy that slows things down and frustrates everyone. But what structure should you have? Where do you begin? For the most part you do need some hierarchy, because you don’t want chaos, but you want just enough hierarchy – the minimal viable bureaucracy.
  • Once you reshape your structure, a new culture emerges. Organizations, families, people are all complex adaptive systems.
  • Focus maximum team effort on one item in the product backlog and get it done as soon as possible (swarming).
  • Watch out for anti-patterns. The problem with à la carte Scrum. Use data for decisions, not opinions. Don’t outsource competence. If you outsource how to do it, you don’t internalize the knowledge. Remove them one by one.

Conclusion. A book about the world behind Scrum. It will help to expand your knowledge how to use Scrum to accelerate performance and getting things done. You got a lot of examples using Scrum in and outside IT. Definitely worth reading.

To buy: The SCRUM Fieldbook