Two weeks ago the Williams F1 team were celebrating their win at the Spanish Grand Prix when a fire broke out in their garage. It caused devastating damage to most of their IT and communications equipment as well as injury to some of the team. They lost their supporting infrastructure of computers, electronics and communications devices that gathered important data and ensured their drivers and cars performed at the highest levels. At the time it seemed inconceivable that they would be able to take part in the Monaco Grand Prix, the next race, two weeks later.
As you can imagine an enormous amount of work and money goes into the design, development and racing of an F1 car — and business requires a return on its investment, so pulling out of the next race was not a viable business option and the timescale was not movable either. The team has had to work in an Agile way to meet this critical deadline, and the fans were eagerly watching their progress. In less than two weeks they were ready to race at Monaco. A team spokesperson said “we have everything that is essential to run two cars, which is the main thing!”
Working collaboratively to deliver what the business needs and doing this to the agreed timescales, are some of the fundamental principles of Agile project management. When I’m working with companies to introduce more Agile working, one of the first steps is to check how likely the team is to buy in to these principles. There is usually good agreement that most of it makes a lot of sense and that they would benefit from adopting these ideas.
However, there is one point which seems to cause concern and confusion. “But if we’re letting the solution evolve as we go and we still have to deliver on time, surely the danger is that we’ll get a half-baked solution” is how one project sponsor put it. This certainly wasn’t the case for the Williams Formula 1 team, by focusing on what was necessary, they succeeded in getting back in the race ….. that wasn’t a half-baked solution being delivered. There was no option to be “half-baked”; quality and safety were paramount concerns.
Managing projects in an Agile way does not mean neglecting the quality of what is delivered. In fact it’s quite the opposite; it is about focusing on quality and the priorities which will ensure the solution is fit-for-purpose. To do this, requires collaborative working with those who can tell you exactly what the business requires and what will make the solution fit-for-purpose.
What difference would Agile project management make in your environment?
To help you get started, take a look at 10 tips to manage projects in a more agile way.