Written by: Rafael De La Rosa MPM, PMP, PMI-RMP, Project-Portfolio Management Consultant, Indonesia / Spain
I work as a project, program and portfolio management consultant for an international company with more than 1 million employees. My department is responsible for managing more than 800 projects of different types, infrastructure, housing, palm oil mills, palm oil bulking stations, biogas plants, biomass plants, etc.
We have recently started a new project, the digitalization of our Departmental processes for the design, planning, management and reporting system of all our projects, so that all the processes and activities will be mapped and carried out digitally, in an “Agile” context way. By getting digitalized, our aim is that the immense information and data that is generated turn into an easy and more friendly dashboards, which would translate into a powerful competitive advantage for the management body, Directors and Managers. The organization will then be able to analyze data in real time and in a fast and agile way to make decisions that help the success and achievement of the strategic objectives set, and this practice will be transformed into rapid learning cycles.
This new digitization project has opened the eyes to us that the traditional way we are now approaching the management of our portfolio of projects, using the traditional waterfall method, can be seen tremendously benefited if we make changes on our current approach by adapting and embracing the Personal Agility Lighthouse™ Model (PALM™). I stumbled upon this model while my colleagues and I in Indonesia were discussing the upcoming workshop of Raji Sivaraman and Michal Raczka who are the founders of Agility Discoveries. Due to different ups and downs of life, I had the good fortune to cross my path with Raji Sivaraman, who together with her partner, Michal Raczka, created the “Personal Agility Lighthouse™ Model (PALM™)”. I found that the PALM™ model could benefit my industry and work.
In general, I could say that traditional project management in a Waterfall project is a planned step of your project lifecycle. With Agile, it happens in a more integrated way as well in each iteration that a project goes through. After reading the PALM™ model of Raji and Michal, I came up with the idea that the application in our work of each of the 7 crucial agilities should be focused, planned and applied in sprints. Taking as a simile, the human life cycle: birth, learning (1), education (2), growth, analysis and emotional comprehension (3), cerebral maturity (4), personal and others recognition and understanding (5), interpersonal and collective relationship (6), legacy (7); although all should be used iteratively with the agile mind set.
From the above figure, you can see that each sprint (regardless of how long it is), or each release cycle is like going through mini planning, execution and closeout cycles.
Learning Agility: Our department has understood and acknowledge that we do not know everything and that we can do things better than we are currently doing. We understand that we should take advantage of all these opportunities and learn quickly with agility to design, plan, execute, manage and control our projects, using new technologies, methodologies, knowledge, etc., so that it will make our performance and in general our organization more competitive and efficient. The first step in the process of embracing the Personal Agility Lighthouse™ Model is the light that will guide us in our new journey in the ocean of adaptation of our existing methodology in Engineering Design, Procurement, Project and Construction Management.
Education Agility: We are all aware that without education, without respect for others, we will never be able to work as a team. Education and respect within the organization and its diversity of cultures, is the basis and foundation of understanding and collaboration to join efforts in pursuit of the objectives set at the personal, group and organization level. Education Agility helps us to assess the needs of each of us, and also identify who within the group can supply that knowledge and help to the needed person to close the gap to further develop, execute and achieve the highest quality outcomes.
Emotional Agility: If each of us in our Department can have a strong base in Learning Agility and Education Agility culture, it will help us to control our most irrational emotions, which can have a very negative effect and impact on our co-workers and ourselves. This Learning Agility and Education Agility culture, is needed especially at senior management level. At that level when things go wrong, usually and most often exploiting, hurting feelings of people who are giving their best and are not really guilty of the situation and not responsible of the negative deviations of the plan becomes a norm. This can be avoided with the application of Emotional agility from the PALM™.
Cerebral Agility: This agility helps us to develop the best we have inside ourselves. In our sector, we can embrace Cerebral Agility from the PALM™ as a process that helps us to be more curious, develop the best in us, generate and provide new ideas and alternatives in our organization. These processes when adapted quickly and agilely to the changes and trends of our market can bring the organizational agility to its peak.
Change Agility: This agility must be carried out at all times; since it is necessary during the life cycle of our products, from the Business Case to operation. Its homonym in traditional Project management would be the process of “Perform Integrated Change Control”. Our organization must be agile in making decisions when options are provided. Currently we are not making decisions when they are required. This situation creates a negative impact to the expected benefits of our projects, therefore deriving poor main stakeholders’ satisfaction. Our Department structure wants to set up to optimize consensus or the decision-making process. This is where I think Change Agility from the PALM™ can help us find the right organizational structure where people have real end-to-end ownership, a holistic leadership.
Political Agility: My personal opinion is that politics is the only universal religion, where, in all countries and cultures, it is established and rooted since prehistoric times. There are different types of politics and politicians, but both are moved by two rules: governability (countries, organizations, people, etc.), and decisions, which are taken based on political reasons and interests. In our company many decisions depend on internal politics and interests of groups with greater strength within the organization, even though I must say that company owners are doing and giving a great support to catch up with the “disruptive technologies” that nowadays are changing our life and business models. In particular, in our department, Political Agility from the PALM™ can help us to become more aware and be more cautious in having an agile governability. Meaning, by taking the right decisions would benefit all stakeholders involved in our daily work activities, so that conflicts that may occur, for various reasons, are handled with persistence, dedication, collaborative and consensual contribution.
Outcomes Agility: Everything comes to an end, which could mean the beginning of something new and unknown. Outcomes Agility, along with the other 6 crucial processes from the PALM™ can help our industry to be more enterprising, inspiring and push us to seek our limits, not settle for mundane bureaucratic work and salary. We know and believe that we can do better, it is a question that, both on a personal and group level, we should answer by giving the best we have and strive to continue growing together, supporting each other. The benefit of the Personal Agility Lighthouse™ Model is that almost everything we want to challenge has the potential to start a flywheel. Once it gets spinning, it can spin faster within more context control.
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