Topic Teasers Vol. 99: The Emotional Payroll

Question:I’m an agile lead working with a traditional project manager on a hybrid project for an outside customer. Each time we all three meet, the PM brings out so many risk charts—and explains the potential pitfalls and recent statistics in such a negative way and with such an emotional tone and facial grimacing—that the customer is almost panicky when he leaves. Agile is all about embracing the potential for risk, but how can I speak to someone on my peer level about changing his behavior and message so that the customer feels appropriately informed while still confident in the team and our progress when he leaves?

A. Agile teams may work for some types of small software projects. However, other projects cannot possibly be completed successfully without careful preparation and constant monitoring of analysis checklists, risk registers and SWOT analyses. The information gathering techniques and diagramming techniques can also deteriorate the project if the correct ones are not implemented.

B. The suggestions in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) are only intended to be suggestions. In reality, no actual projects use them. Instead, a project manager will have the highest percentage of successful undertakings by simply relying on the already existing practices found in the organization. They are the reason this enterprise thrived in the first place.

C. You need to talk to your co-lead on this hybrid team about being on the emotional payroll and why his current behavior is not good for the project. It’s uncomfortable talking to a peer about this, but it is better than the entire project failing or the customer experience being negative and thwarting future contracts with this client.

D. Since agile and traditional project management are so different, you two should take turns meeting with the customer for the updates. In this way, you won’t have to witness the behavior that you find unacceptable. If the customer does panic at the unconsciously scary message of doom and gloom delivered by your colleague, he can take it up with his boss.

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