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Agile mindset in a Waterfall world: Are you an Agile PM?

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“Are you an Agile PM?” is a question I often heard earlier in my career as a Project Management consultant. And often, my answer had been somewhat awkward because I inferred the question was really “Do you use scrum or other agile methods?” I use agile methods, and they are my preferred project methodology. Yet in my career, I have worked on many projects that required a more traditional waterfall approach due to their nature. Traditional waterfall clients asked, “Why do projects you manage have a higher success rate than our average?” I’ve realized the answer to both questions: I have an Agile mindset in a Waterfall world.

Does this seem like an oxymoron? Take a look at the Agile Manifesto:

Manifesto for Agile Software Development  http://agilemanifesto.org/

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

I have worked within many variations of agile and traditional waterfall methodologies. I let the type of work dictate the methodology. An agile mindset where individuals, results, collaboration, and responsiveness are prioritized can be applied even when the methodology requires a more waterfall approach.

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