Agile Project Management

Summary: Of all the books in the PMI-ACP reading list, this book is my least favorite.  The book aims too high by attempting to codify a project management approach for all agile.  Ambitious.  That said, I think few people really understand agile as well as Jim Highsmith.  He has solid experience and his ideas are built upon a solid foundation, its just that what he constructs as Agile Project Management is just ugly.  Perhaps it was the color or the size of the closets, but I didn’t like the final product.  However, there are some great gems in this book, you just have to be paying attention to spot them.

Top Three Things I learned

  1. The Declaration of Interdependence.  I’ve seen this concept come up before, but more of a passing concept.  Here the concept is discussed in detail at the beginning of the book (chapter 1) and is a pillar of what comes later.
  2. TBD
  3. TBD

Chapter 1: The Agile Revolution

Quote: Ultimate customer value is delivered at the point-of-sale, not the point-of-plan

Quote: Be quick, but don’t hurry


  • Repeatable: same input, same process, same output
  • Reliable: handles the unexpected

Concept: The declaration of interdependence

  • Increase ROI by continuous flow of value
  • Reliable results by engaging the customer
  • Expect uncertainty by iterative adaptive delivery
  • Innovation through the true source of value–people
  • Boost performance through group accountability
  • Improve reliability the situationally specific processes

Concept: Agile Triangle:

  • Value goal – releasable product
  • Quality goal – reliable, adaptable product
  • Constraint goal – Achieve value and quality within acceptable constraints

Chapter 2: Value over Constraints

Concept: To deliver value:

  1. focus on innovation rather than efficiency
  2. concentrate on execution
  3. lean thinking

Concept: Other thoughts

  • Iterative, Feature-based Delivery
  • Technical excellence
  • Simplicity

Chapter 3: Teams over Tasks

Concept: 4 major themes in leading teams

  1. Leadership
  2. Build Self-Organizing Teams
  3. Collaboration
  4. Customer Collaboration

Quote: Most teams are over managed and under led

Chapter 4: Adapting over Conforming

Concept: Traditional managers view the plan as the goal, whereas agile leaders view customer value as the goal.  We want value-based, not constraint based.  When customer value and quality are the goals, then a plan becomes a means to achieve those goals, not the goal itself.

Observation: Both Agile and Traditional methods have a baseline, but traditional is corrective to get back to the baseline, whereas agile is adaptive.

Observation: Most PMs are not selected for their ability to inspire people.

Concept: The word “repeatable” isn’t in the agile lexicon.  Repeatable processes are not effective for product development projects because precise results are rarely predictable.  Reliable processes focus on outputs, not inputs.

Chapter 5: An Agile Project Management Model

Concept: An Agile Enterprise Framework

  • Portfolio Governance (Portfolio)
  • Project Management (Value Stream)
  • Iteration Management (Program)
  • Technical Practices (Team)

Concept: An Agile Development Lifecycle

  • Envision
  • Speculate
  • Explore
    • Preparation & Plan
    • Development
    • QA & Acceptance Testing
    • Review & Adapt
    • Continuous
    • Story Development
  • Product Launch
  • Close

Chapter 6: The Envision Phase

Concept: Foundation for agile project success

  • Value goal (releasable)
  • Quality goal (reliable, adaptable)
  • Constraint goal (Achieve value and quality within acceptable constraints)

Concept: Mike Cohn defines product vision as the “should haves” and project scope as the will haves.

Chapter 7: The Speculate Phase

Chapter 8: Advanced Release Planning

Chapter 9: The Explore Phase

Chapter 10: The Adapt and Close Phases

Chapter 11: Scaling Agile Projects

Chapter 12: Governing Agile Projects

Chapter 13: Beyond, Scope, Schedule, and Cost: Measuring Agile Performance

Chapter 14: Reliable Innovation