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 Problem and Solution  Problem and Solution   Celebration Announcement   Celebration Announcement

Introduction   »   Start   »   Project Celebration


Although it might seem a little odd to start talking about project delivery celebrations before we have even started talking about the project, you and the Toolkit are fearless now. We are certain; if you follow the guidelines in the Toolkit you will deliver your project to time and to budget. You will gain confidence when your management and your peers see that you have delivered your project to time and to budget. This confidence will grow and you will get more relaxed with the techniques with every project that goes by.

We want to stress now that to achieve this remarkable outcome for your next project and for every project in the future, you have to be prepared to perform some behaviours and carry out some activities that will, at first, seem peculiar or, to conventional managers, somewhat eccentric. There is always a reason to performing in this way and the objective remains the same. This is to allow you to deliver agile projects to quality, to time and to budget. To achieve this we need to overcome some of the old barriers and one of the first restrictive barriers we will overcome is the lack of confidence in project success.

It is brave of you to have the confidence and conviction to address your project delivery methods in a new way. You are demonstrating this by reading The Big Agile Toolkit. Your research will have uncovered the fact that agile methods have been reliably and successfully delivering cost, quality and schedule outcomes for some time. Undoubtedly, the rivals and competitors in your organisations sector will already have evaluated, maybe even trialled or be ready to trial these and similar methods to expedite and bring about their own organisational costs optimization. These improved project delivery approaches work and work well.

However, we have to bring about change in behaviours and shift some of the old fashioned assumptions that surround these behaviours. The first barrier, as we said earlier, concerns success. We will change the old fashioned emphasis surrounding success and we will bring about your confidence to specify success, your recognition of the inevitability of success when using these methods and the very important first activity you will perform for your project. This is the celebration of success. Let us look a little further.

Traditionally, we wait until something is done before we hail and recognise its success. We will wait until we crack the shell of a boiled egg before we guess at the condition of the yolk inside. It is difficult to make an assessment during a process that the final outcome of the process is going to be successful. We do this because we know from experience that things will tend to happen outside our control and these very things have an unfortunate tendency to reach out and bite us in the worst place at the worst time. Historic events such as this have dimmed our expectation of success and removed our confidence to predict success without the glaring juicy evidence in front of our eyes.

We also know from experience that if we confidently attempt to predict the outcome of an event such as this, we will be put at the mercy of these very random, or sometimes manipulated, influences beyond our control. So, with this assumption, we have to wait until we open up the target to see what is inside and whether it is an outcome we desired. But this old behaviour, to wait until the final outcome before predicting the success of a situation, is a behaviour we can overcome.

Using agile techniques we assess regularly and, very importantly, closely manage the environment in which the process takes place. This simple intervention is seeking to eliminate the possibility of failure by minimizing the outside influences and taking control of the internal influences. So we just need to lightly puff out our chests together now and begin to gain the confidence to realise that we will influence our projects and we will deliver our projects successfully.

So, attempting to stretch the analogy a little further, if you boil an egg by selecting the first available pan, throwing in some water and heating it up for around three minutes you will probably end up with a boiled egg. But this approach to the activity has a number of random and variable stimuli which can influence the outcome. Moreover, you do not know if these specific stimuli are beneficial or damaging. You have introduced both positive and negative influences and have little knowledge of the level of influence on your outcomes.

Without wishing to drift into some form of egg fetish, we will look at what you do if you boil an egg every morning. If you maintain the same outside influences using the same amount of heat, the same pan, the same farm to source the egg, the same type and amount of water and so on you can more reliably predict the outcome. You can predict the precise time it will take to deliver the level of quality you desire. Furthermore, you will have spent exactly the same amount of money arriving at that same level of quality.

Now, via this rather esoteric analogy, we have arrived at the very straightforward realisation that by adding a little known and agreed standardisation and control to the task of delivering our project, we minimize the outside influences. This allows us to regain control over the internal activities and improve the reliability of our outcomes. This also provides us with a repeatable process to deliver these planned outcomes. The repeatable process increases the confidence of our peers that we can deliver the specific expected outcomes they identify. Finally, and importantly, this certainty gives us the confidence that we can do this, and say we are going to do this, even before we have started.

This is why you can reliably predict the success of your project and can confidently book a celebration of this success. We know this realisation will become easier to accept, perform and communicate when you have a series of successful agile projects under your belt and can see the evidence for yourself. But we said earlier: this behaviour is old behaviour. We were puffing our chests out together. Do you remember? Evidence of your successes will be demonstrated very soon so you just need that first bit of confidence to try the method and to let fly with your first agile delivery. Once your level of confidence has reached high enough for you to send an email, this is all the confidence you need to start.

So we know now that your project is going to deliver and, by the end of the Toolkit, you will have all the evidence you need to demonstrate to your peers and to yourself, if you still need further evidence of that certainty. This evacuation of any doubt from the assured outcome shows why we can confidently predict success and demonstrate this confidence now. As we said earlier, we do this by announcing your project delivery celebration and we want to do this with style. So we announce this at the very outset of your project. We will get into the psychology of this act later but for now there is a way to arrange your project delivery celebration correctly. Let us look at this important first task.

In all likelihood when the project is finally delivered you will acknowledge that you accepted a tough mission but still delivered a significant success. It is likely you have also delivered the first agile project in your organisation. You may have met doubt, conflict or resistance and defeated it all. Once the project is at an end you can evidence to any remaining doubters your original promise to deliver on time and to budget. It will be there in stark reality for all to see. This realisation will come to the doubters very late in the process. However, it is your celebration at the very outset of the process that marks your confidence, the confidence of your team and the significant achievement they will bring about. This celebration puts down a marker that represents your original promise to deliver on time and to budget.

Once the project is at an end you can evidence that your team did a brilliant job. You are in all likelihood expecting a decent bonus for delivering such a reputable challenge in such spectacular style. Why would you not celebrate? This is a great opportunity to thank all those who made this a resounding success.

Obviously, everyone from the team is involved in the celebration including your management and sponsor. They will all have put a lot of effort in; so you will put effort into managing and creating a great project delivery celebration.

You will learn later in the Toolkit, we always do things that are fit for purpose. The project delivery celebration is no different. Many projects, we are all aware, barely warrant a celebration as they are so small. Yet, do not miss this opportunity, even if it is only a modest get together, a brief meeting or anything to mark the occasion and to get the team together to acknowledge the success, to identify the contributors and to underline the benefits of this type of approach.

Let us be clear, it is not the celebration that is all important; it is the simple fact that you are announcing your expected and planned success even before you have properly begun - THAT is the message. This is a clear message to all who hear it that this project will satisfy the primary objective of The Big Agile Toolkit method and will deliver what it said, when it said and deliver it to budget.

If you have agile supporters, often called agilistas, on your team then they will probably be eager or at least supportive. However, many who hear the early and confident message of your planned success will doubt it. But you will know, once you have mastered The Big Agile Toolkit that there is no other possible outcome. Right, we have a party to organize.

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