The Yin Yang of Projects: The Hybrid Project Management

Postado por admin em 05/Mar/2019 - Sem Comentários

Yin and Yang is a concept of dualism from the ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposing or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they can strengthen as they interrelate with one another. Thus, Yin and Yang can be thought of as complementary (and not opposite) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater (and better) than the parts.

In the world of project management, there is a discussion about which is the most effective method and among these many methodologies, two are antagonistic and generate the most discussion: The Traditional method vs the Agile framework.

Advocates of the Agile framework deliver projects with less bureaucracy, more speed and simplicity, customer focus and efficient collaboration among team members, while the guardians of the traditional method, trust that the success of a project is achieved through 5 well defined phases and executed in structured steps, using good practices and tools from the results of several years of evolution of project management. Both methods have their strenghts and weakenesses and do not always bring the best results for all types of existing projects, because after all a project is always a temporary and unique effort.

The hammer can not be your only tool to solve all your problems, because if your only tool is a hammer, then all your problems will look like a nail.

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Borrowing the concept of Yin and Yang, we can say that Hybrid project management can be a balanced solution to successfully deliver the different types of projects a company manages, using the best practices and techniques that each method can offer.

Why have only one hammer, if I can have a toolbox and choose the most suitable tool to use?

According to “Mundo PM” Magazine (nº 64/2015 Brazilian edition):

Hybrid models are the combination of principles, practices, techniques and tools of different approaches in a systematic process that aims to tailor the management to the context of the business and specific type of projects. They aim to maximize project and product performance, provide a balance between predictability and flexibility, reduce risk and increase innovation, deliver better business results and added value to the customer.

Currently there are many studies and even hybrid methods used in the market such as SAFe, DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery), LEAN-SIX SIGMA, SCRUMBAN and many others… Particularly I prefer to manage my projects with a customized and balanced method using the best practices of PMBoK and SCRUM (You can call it ScrumBoK). For each type of project I use a percentage of the good practices from both methods, applying the tools that I consider most appropriate for that project. With PMBoK, I constantly work on the planning, control and monitoring tools and processes, while the SCRUM Framework, I use the meetings and their ceremonies, story execution flows and change management flexibility. Thus, I work with the strengths from each of the methods, adjusting their weights according to the characteristics of each project that I manage, balancing the Yin Yang of the projects.

To reach this balance the first step is to analyze the characteristics of the target project, such as complexity, size, well defined or incremental scope, customer, costs and deadlines. Smaller projects, with incremental scope and strong customer presence in the project, I tend to give more “rope” to the SCRUM side than PMBoK, about 70/30. Many of the website development projects benefit from this configuration because there is no need for massive planning and the focus is on fast delivery.

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For large and complex projects with well defined deadlines and scope, the opposite occurs, around 30/70. A good example is the Olympic Games, which requires huge planning of scope, time, cost, risk and low tolerance to fails.

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For most of the projects I have worked with, I used the 60/40 balancing (SCRUM / PMBoK). I have experienced over time that with this balancing configuration, I was able to maximize the likelihood of project success, generating predictability of delivery, quality, and stakeholder integration.

Working with hybrid methods may seem more laborious than adopting a single method, but the benefits and results of managing a balanced, structured, and flexible project are worth this effort. As the ancient Chinese say:

“If the wind blows from a single direction, the tree will grow bended.”

In the next serie of articles I will show how I use the combined tools and good practices from each method, starting with the “Project Charter” using Canvas technique.