Author: Ananth Natarajan

CHOW #25– Difficult team member

You are coaching an agile team in India which has been practising agile for the last three releases. The team has been stable and has embraced agile with enthusiasm. Product management team is based out of the U.S. with a local product owner who worked with the team every day. Management is happy with the team’s progress and the results thus far.     The scrum master, Mary, wore a worried look on her face when you met her 1:1. She was concerned about the attitude of Vivek, a senior developer in the team – respected by the team for his technical skills. Vivek is a contractor and has been with this team for couple of years. Mary tells you, “Vivek’s enthusiasm has dropped and he picks up bare minimum work. He has told the contracting company that he would like change complaining about commute time to office. He is unhappy with not having rights to approve code baselines like permanent employees. What’s worse – he is negatively influencing some of the junior contractors and impacting their attitude. Overall Vivek’s productivity has dropped and other team members find him difficult to work with. I have spoken to him multiple times with no improvement. He is a critical technical resource and is important for this release. I don’t know what to do.” As a coach, you observe the behavior of...

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CHOW #15- “Tell them to behave” – A scrum master problem

You are a scrum master and you find that your team does not attend the daily stand-up on time and you also find that most of the team members do not update their tasks in the iteration tracker. Burn-down is never up to date. You see this as a culture issue and would like to fix it as soon as possible because the VP of the business unit from the Head Office overseas is visiting your location next week. In the stand-up, you announce the visit to the team and tell them to correct their behavior. You also tell...

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The “Mirage of mitigation” in project management

As Project Managers, we sooner or later learn the significance of managing risks in a project. We get good at identifying risks that impact project goals and figuring out mitigation/contingency actions. We plan these mitigation actions diligently and make sure that those are done. However, sometimes, we fall into a trap that I call the ‘Mirage of Mitigation’. Let me illustrate from my personal experience. Many years ago, I was leading a project to develop a marketing application for a retail bank on a mainframe. One of the requirements was that a cross-selling message be displayed on the PC...

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CHOW #4– What are the risks in a project managed by a first-time Project Manager?

Rahul Shenoy (Rahul) was thrilled to hear the news that he had been promoted as Project Manager in his organization (“vSAPPERS”). His last project assignment was as a Business Analyst in a very successful SAP implementation project for a client in the U.K. In that project, his organization was a sub-contractor of Capgemini. Along with the news of his promotion, Rahul also came to know that his first project as a PM was going to be for a manufacturing organization in Pune planning to use the same SAP modules as he had worked on earlier for the U.K. customer. Rahul’s employer had taken up end-to-end responsibility for the Pune project. The Pune customer, not being very large, had wanted a simple out-of-the-box implementation of select modules of SAP (estimated at 24 person months over six months). As a result, Rahul’s manager Mohan Rao (based in the organization’s Head Office in Bangalore) considered the project simple enough for a first-time project manager like Rahul. Rahul was transferred to the organization’s Pune office which was just being set-up and Rahul had to form his project team selecting from other staff already located in the Pune office. The Pune customer was being serviced by the SAP office in Mumbai and SAP’s Account Manager Milind Rane was a good friend of Mohan Rao, Rahul’s manager in Bangalore. Rahul was looking forward to the...

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