Agile values, SU-DSV courses

The Agile manifesto addresses four central values: individuals and interactions, working software, responding to change and customer collaboration.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: In my opinion, this is everything the communication course was all about. Involving everyone in the decision process, empowering teams, non-violent communication, small groups as complex systems: these are all about interaction and placing people in front of everything else. Agile takes communication and involvement to a whole new level: sharing knowledge, collaboratively improving the process further, keeping all the participants updated all the time.

Working software over comprehensive documentation, responding to change over following a plan: these principles seemingly contradict courses like Practical Project Management or Business Strategies. These courses were talking about the role of the project manager, project plans composed of different chapters, like risk assessment, communications plan, activity plan, etc. Agile does not address the project manager role and places documentation and plans on the right, making them a non-top priority. However, in real life conditions, I think, it is on the contrary: Agile has actual value, but for most projects, it cannot be implemented ‘by the book.’ Letting the team build the product in isolation is not possible unless the product is a relatively new one (not yet introduced to the market). For more mature projects some sort of coordination and planning is required: that’s where the project manager comes to the picture. Project managers take off a huge load from the back of the team, by dealing with coordination, empowerment, planning, staffing, etc.

These two courses also pointed out the importance of responding to unforeseen circumstances: monitoring and controlling, keeping the project plan up to date, taking action when something goes off-track.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: I think this is the principle which has not yet been explicitly covered in the courses. Communication, PPM and BS have all addressed smaller parts of it: effective communication (collaboration), some bits of negotiation techniques, productive meetings. However, collaborating with customers as such was not yet part of the curricula.

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