The local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter, to which I am a member, conducts a Peer-to-Peer Project Management Connect group (P2P PM Connect). I serve as a co-Champion for PM Connect. You can find this group on Meetup.com. We hold monthly seminars covering a wide range of PM topics. This month’s seminar topic was “How Product and Project Managers Work Together”. You can check out the group on Meetup at this link https://www.meetup.com/pm-connect-p2p/. For this session, we had a joint meeting with the Product Management P2P organized as a slide deck presentation followed by a panel discussion.
One of the questions posed to the panel was “How does the execution model influence the relationship and delineation of responsibilities (i.e. Agile, Waterfall, Scrum-a-fall)?”. One view presented to this question was that Agile framework, as an execution model, had a negative influence on the relationship because it complicated the roles and responsibilities. There wasn’t a great deal of talk on this particular issue, but my interpretation was that the Product Management panelist, who presented this view, and the ensuing audience comments suggested that Agile’s microcosmic nature provided non-sensible context which led the observers to draw conflicting conclusions. If this conclusion was reached as a result of their own personal experience, then I can only surmise that their respective company’s Agile execution model is unstructured and open ended. By this I mean that their work environment is a series of disconnected sprints that focus on the flavor of the moment; hence may or may not work to serve the product goals.
As a panelist for Project Management, I advocated Agile framework as a beneficial execution model. My thinking is that as a Project Manager, we need to motivate the team to visualize the product as King. In order to empower the team to serve the King, all contributions must align with the product goal. The product goal, as primarily set by the product owner (i.e. the Product Manager) is the deliverable that composites all discrete work product deliverables. A well organized Agile model will have a defined traceability to the product goal by way of a documented hierarchy of Epics, Story’s, and Tasks. Dependencies can not be explicitly visualized, but the daily work must always be traceable to the product goal.
If Agile framework is, in fact, complicating the influence and delineation of Product and Project Management decisions, then I would argue that the agile visualization is exactly what that company needs. A good visualization shows you what you have done, what you are doing now, and where you are headed. If Project and Product manager’s don’t like the view, then they need to fix what they see; not blame glasses.