Agile Politics Clinic

Every team, agile or not, is unique. That's why it's so difficult to formulate a one-size-fits-all solution to enhancing agile team effectiveness. But with the informal and flexible format of a "clinic," we can address your specific needs.

When organizations transition from a conventional project management paradigm to one of the agile family of paradigms, they encounter unexpected turbulence. Things go well, usually, with the pilot projects. But when we scale up, we tend to encounter difficulties with increasing frequency, as the parts of the enterprise that are using the new paradigm come into contact with the parts of the enterprise that are unaccustomed to it.

For instance, unless we did some hiring while we were running the pilot projects, we might not have exposed the parts of our hiring process that assume that we're using a conventional project management paradigm, with its slower pace and its view of people as packages of skills. In the agile paradigm, things change rapidly, we must respond more rapidly, and people are not only packages of skills, but also more fully human with relationships, history, goals, and desires. In the agile paradigms, we can't swap people in and out of teams without disrupting the agility of those teams.

Agile Politics Clinic

The hands of the people of a team, which symbolize most clearly how an agile organization works. Image (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Pomona.

These are but minor examples of the kinds of organizational changes that must occur before the benefits of agile paradigms become evident. As a champion of the agile transition, or as a participant at any level in an agile team, confrontations with the existing culture of the enterprise can be frustrating, distracting, and trying. Dealing with the incidents that do arise requires specialized tools that many of us lack, or haven't used in a long time. That's why we developed the Agile Politics Clinic.

Bring your questions, wonderings, knots, quandaries, predicaments, muddles, dilemmas, impasses, and tight situations to the Agile Politics Clinic, and we work on them in an interactive simulation to develop insights that can get you moving forward again.

What past participants say

  • This program opened our eyes to the full impact of adopting agile processes. We now understand that just about every function has to adapt — some more than others, but everyone has to change something.
  • As a team lead, I was beginning to think that the trouble we were having was something about me. In the "In Their Shoes" exercise, I learned to see things from the vantage point of people outside the team. I use that insight now almost every day. Thank you!

Program structure and content

The overall structure of the program is a series of cases. Each case is based on the contributions of the participants. A participant will describe a situation (possibly fictional) that he or she anticipates, and which could present difficulties to his or her team, or to the organization. Under the guidance of an experienced facilitator, we then explore the issues presented in the case, and develop a scenario for simulation. Then, as a group, we run the simulation to discover unexpected difficulties or hindrances, and options for dealing with them. This program is available as a clinic.

Learning model

We usually think of teamwork or project management skills as rather technical — free of emotional content. We hold this belief even though we know that our most difficult situations can be highly charged. Despite our most sincere beliefs, taking a project organization to the next level of performance does require learning to apply knowledge management skills even in situations of high emotional content. That's why this program uses a learning model that differs from the one often used for technical content.

Our learning model is partly experiential, which makes the material accessible even during moments of stress. Using a mix of presentation, simulation, group discussion, and metaphorical team problems, we make available to participants the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations.

Target audience

Leaders and managers and technical project team members. Participants should have experienced at least six months as a member of a technical project team.

Program duration

Available formats range from a half-day to two days.

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What People Say About Rick's Programs
  • "Rick is a dynamic presenter who thinks on his feet to keep the material relevant to the group."
    — Tina L. Lawson, Technical Project Manager, BankOne (now J.P. Morgan Chase)
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    — Mark Middleton, Team Lead, SERS
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