I’ve recently finished a period of time as an IT Project Manager. At its heart this was a classic PM role. Capitol projects, such as updating a corporate PBX System, were at the heart of the job responsibilities. Those who know me well or followed this blog in the past might be surprised at this. I know when I speak to recruiters here in the Denver area they always are. That aside my big question as I started that position was what can I, as an Agile Practitioner, bring to this classic project management role?
At the start I made a tweet about bringing Agile to the company. Of course this is not something that one can just do, like bringing a stand-up desk. (Which I did near the end of my time.) Agile, especially as related to project management, is a way of working, a style, an approach.
After a week or two of settling in and finding my place on the team my goal was to excel in the job being asked of me. My efforts shifted to how I could do that. I was part of a team that ran very lean. We were under the direction of an extremely intelligent woman. All the projects I was involved in were already underway at some level. I was getting a good idea of what they required and where they were struggling, if they were. Thing is, what they required for the most part wasn’t anything I could easily pull from my Agile and Scrum background.
I started by concentrating on visibility. I wanted to make the real status of the projects as compared to their end state documented and visible to all the stakeholders. This allowed progress on the projects to be tracked and improved upon, but wasn’t anything special.
What I really wanted to bring something unique to the projects. Getting proper tracking and reporting in place didn’t do that. I worked on learning some of the solutions so I could help optimize them and make them work better as we tried to finalize deployments. This was useful and it helped get things done more quickly, but it still wasn’t quite right.
Something said to me by my boss stuck with me on it and to paraphrase it was that I needed to bring myself to the project. Not just be there as the Project Manager, but be there as the Project Manager with 14+ years of tech industry experience and knowledge. This is ultimately what started to give me more confidence in making recommendations and decisions for these projects. This is also the biggest take-away from my time in that position.
As you move forward in new projects, on new teams, and in new organizations don’t spend all your time trying to change into what you think the teams expects you to be. You were hired to fill a role yes, but it was you that was hired. Bring what you have learned before to what you do next. That is the only thing you can do that nobody else can. Everything else you bring is good, but the uniqueness of your experience and expertise is what will allow you to succeed going forward. It’s what I plan to bring forward in my next adventure.