PMI at the Gathering

   The day of the 12th (May-2009) started with the opening speech of Jim Cundiff, the Managing Director of the Scrum Alliance. Nothing too big about what was said, but I see as very big that he was here. To me, this shows that the Scrum Alliance is really interested in Latin America and of course in Brasil.

   After his brief presentation, Ricardo Vargas took the floor. He is “only” the chairman of the PMI Board (2009). Again, here, the thing that had my attention was the fact that he was there! As PMI sees the growth of agile projects in the US in the IT Business, economic interest can be more clearly seen.

   It seems that in the US, (self-denominated) agile projects (in IT) are now more used than the projects with heavier or more traditional approaches.

   His presentation was more about PMI than about Scrum. It was clear that he knew very little about Scrum. He seemed to know that it was lighter, and that teams are self-managing. When talking about the PMI and the PMBok, he was trying to be clear that the guides are not rules; they are recommendations on practices that the organization thinks will work. His message was in the line of: “Use whatever works and gets results!”

   Underneath, with this strategy, the PMI is trying to make agile or empirical approaches a leg of their guides. Today, the PMI and the ScrumAlliance are certainly aligned, but on the long run, it looks as if the PMI is looking to absorb Scrum. Today, the ScrumAlliance wants the PMI stamp, and the PMI is looking at all this market that is trading management practices. The hidden message is that PMI will accept agile when the rate of change is higher. I felt the hidden message was that Scrum is good for software and programmers, but if you need an Oil Platform, or have a Billion Dollar project, call me.


Ricardo Vargas, chairman of the PMI speaks to the Scrum community.


Ricardo Vargas, chairman of the PMI speaks to the Scrum community.

   One of the more polemic topics was the self-management of Scrum Teams. Ricardo said that he has never seen a team that would be productive without someone telling them what to do. In his view, 90% of people would do nothing without being forced to. He sure made clear he was talking about his personal experience. My personal view is that his vision is probably accurate for construction work or a work where you take a black liquid out of the ground to be burned, but programmers do intellectual work and it may be different in the IT business. My view on this is certainly more naïve or romantic, but I can live with that.

   PMI is, and will continue to lead in project management guides and skills. Empirical and Agile methods will start to be a part of the PMI teachings and the PMBok, that’s for sure. Traditional project management and heavier methods will still dominate and be effective whenever the requirements are in control, and change is not as significant as it is in our industry.

   Of course, as software penetrates more and more every aspect of human life, and the pace of change increases, it is very likely that the Agile methods will expand and become dominant in the future. Time alone will tell.

This was certainly an exciting morning!


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