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2016 12-21 rules for radical project managers


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There seem to be some interesting Design Patterns in common between Alinsky-style community organizing and Scrum. In this talk, I explore what makes each unique, and what they share in common. In particular, I suggest that looking at Design Patterns might help practitioners in both spheres, as well as traditional project managers, build more effective teams.

The original talk was given to a PMI Roundtable. From the feedback to the talk, I was reminded that not even Project Managers necessarily know much about Agile or Scrum. For a broader audience of organizers, how much more so. I have therefore added several slides about Agile in general, and Scrum as a popular Agile methodology. Hopefully, I'll get to test them out at future talks and/or they'll be useful to people who find these slides on SlideShare.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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2016 12-21 rules for radical project managers

  1. 1. Rules for Radical Project Managers Ari Davidow, PMP, CSM for the MetroNorth Roundtable 21-December-2016 @aridavidow
  2. 2. Design patterns for organizers and scrum masters?
  3. 3. Scrum Masters? Agile?
  4. 4. What is Agile Development? • A set of software development processes that focus on putting usable code in people’s hands as soon as possible • A vision of software development as an ongoing process, rather than as a one time project
  5. 5. Manifesto for Agile Software Development We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools • Working software over comprehensive documentation • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation • Responding to change over following a plan That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
  6. 6. Agile Development • Put usable tools in people’s hands quickly
  7. 7. How does it work? • Use cards/whiteboard to note requests
  8. 8. User Story Mapping
  9. 9. A user story is a brief description of functionality as viewed by a user or customer of the system (Mike Cohn) As a <type of user>, I want <capability> So that <business value> As an archivist I want a pulldown menu with my metadata terms So that we can keep terms consistent
  10. 10. Agile Development
  11. 11. Agile Development: In progress
  12. 12. Agile Development
  13. 13. And now, Saul Alinsky
  14. 14. “Power over” vs. “Power with”
  15. 15. An IAF Engagement • Not a mass movement • Instead, a coalition of community organizations: primarily churches, synagogues, mosques join together • Before IAF sends in an organizer, there must be a commitment to fund 2-3 years of activism. • Organizing takes time.
  16. 16. What does “self-organizing” community organizing look like? "Under Alinsky, organizing meant 'pick a target, mobilize, and hit it.' In the modern IAF, issues follow relationships. You don't pick targets and mobilize first; you connect people in and around their interests*." (see also Jim Collins and Good to Great)
  17. 17. Antipattern: ‘60s Activists
  18. 18. Antipattern: Charismatic Movement
  19. 19. Some qualities of an Organizer • Curiosity, • Irreverence • Imagination • A sense of humor • An organized personality (constantly seeing patterns, learning) • A well-integrated political schizoid (don't become a true believer--must believe, but also must be able to compromise)
  20. 20. Organizer as servant After all thos audacious qualities describing organizers as macho outlaws, Nicholas von Hoffman wrote in his memoir of Alinsky: [Although some compared Rules for Radicals to Sun Tzu’s Art of War,] “Saul would have identified himself with another ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, who is supposed to have said:
  21. 21. Relational meetings
  22. 22. Types of organizations/relationships • Business: entrepreneurial, buy/sell • Government: bureaucracy, universal service • Relational: person-to-person (churches … and bowling or softball teams are often cited as examples of relational organizations)
  23. 23. Business, Gov, Relational Peter Drucker wrote an essay in The Public Interest several years ago about the growing division of labor into two large categories--service workers and knowledge workers. I wrote him and argued that there was a third category: relational workers. He responded, "You are absolutely right--but they (relational workers) consider themselves knowledge workers." Of course they do ... where only two choices are available. ... They wanted to teach and to heal, protect and coach. They imagined themselves relating to people, helping people, even saving people. [Mike Gecan]
  24. 24. Relational orgs and time The arc of recovery and revitalization is long-- longer than the eight years a president may serve, far longer than the quarterly, monthly, or weekly updates scrutinized by shareholders in the market. Only the steady and restless leaders of mature citizens power organizations--and other third sector groups--are ideally positioned for it.
  25. 25. Change … can be advanced only when real differences are bound up together in a web of relationships anchored in the institutions that bring [people] together…
  26. 26. How does it work? • Research (groom: refine epics and user stories) • Action—carry out the organizing activities that will culminate in a concrete action (sprint, followed by a review) • Evaluation (retrospective)
  27. 27. Organizing is iterative "Something else that comes with experience is the knowledge that the resolution of a particular problem will bring on another problem.... [W]hat we fight for now, will be soon forgotten, and changed situations will change desires and issues.... You begin to build power for a particular program--then the program changes when some power has been built. –Saul Alinsky
  28. 28. What can Scrum teach the IAF? • Transparency – The IAF tends to be very poor at making information available – What are we working on? – Where is the story in the workflow? – What does the current sprint look like?
  29. 29. Diversity (a digression)
  30. 30. Alinsky’s Legacy • Community organizing as a profession, independent of ideology
  31. 31. Alinsky’s legacy: organizations • Affiliate organizations in more than sixty-five cities across the United States and in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany. • Offshoots include United Farmworkers. • In the Boston area, check out the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization,
  32. 32. IAF Resources • Industrial Areas Foundation, Books • Alinsky, Saul, Rules for Radicals (1972) • Gecan, Michael, Going Public (2002) • Chambers, Ed, Roots for Radicals (2003) • Horwitt, Sanford D., Let them call me rebel (1989) • Von Hoffman, Nicholas, Radical: A portrait of Saul Alinsky (2010) Web • Seal, Mike (2008) Saul Alinsky, community organizing and rules for radicals’, the encyclopaedia of informal education. []. • Riley, Theresa (2012) Who is Saul Alinsky? [] • Moyers, Bill (2012) Newt Gingrich and the real Saul Alinsky [
  33. 33. Some Agile Resources • AgileBoston—— especially imaginative speakers and camraderie. Each free monthly meeting is preceded by a half-hour class related to Scrum, or Agile development. • Agile New England– –monthly meetings, likewise preceded by practice sessions, classes in Scrum and Kanban. Speakers tend to be more establishmentarian, likelier to be pushing recent books. Attendees seem to average a bit older • PMI– – has an Agile SIG, and a new-ish certification focused on Agile methodologies: ACP
  34. 34. More useful books • Sutherland, Jeff. Scrum: The Art of doing twice the work in half the time. (2014) • Pollack, Stanley & Mary Fusoni. Moving Beyond Icebreakers. (2005)— useful to anyone building teams or organizing communities.