Agile PM Process Grid–4.5 Collaboration/Negotiation

In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management.   These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

The next block of three processes I am going to describe are those belonging to the “Team Performance” knowledge area (equivalent to the “HR Management” knowledge area in traditional PM) that are done during the Planning phase of the project.

The first process 4.4  Coaching/Facilitation, was described in the last post.   In this post, I cover 4.5 Collaboration/Negotiation.    This is almost a description of a soft skillset as opposed to a process, although it is most often used during the iteration planning meeting.

Why are iteration planning meetings so important?   Well, for one, they are the most frequent type of meeting you will have in agile project management, so setting the tone of collaboration and negotiation in these meetings will really set the tone for the entire project.

Also, it is the “front line” for negotiating on scope.   To enter negotiation and aim for a win-win situation should be the goal.

What is the goal of iteration planning?   To choose a group of stories the team can successfully complete within the timeframe of the iteration.

It is not just the number of stories that needs to be agreed upon, but the optimal combination of those stories so that there will be a potentially shippable increment.   And to make sure that this potentially shippable increment meets high quality standards, there needs to be a mutual agreement on a concrete and explicit definition of done.    If this issue is NOT adequately addressed during the iteration planning meeting, then the results of the iteration could be disappointing for the customer/proxy or the team, and the trust factor between the two may be eroded.

Yes, there is a tension between the customer/proxy and the team that is inherent in the fact that one may be pushing for efficiency (i.e., getting as many stories completed as possible), while one may be pushing for effectiveness (getting all the stories given as complete as possible).   But this is a natural tension and it is always important to realize that the two have different perspectives on (hopefully) the same reality and goals.

The next process is 4.6 Motivation/Empowerment, and that is the subject of the next post.




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