Agile or Not?

How many times have you met a company owner who claims his company is Agile and you do not see the Agility?

“Agile” and “Business Agility” and “Agile Project Management” are big buzz words. But how many of the companies using them are really Agile?

What is needed?

True Agility actually starts with the mindset, the mindset of the Senior Management to be exact. Unless the Senior Managers have truly moved away from traditional top-down approaches and trust their staff to make decisions and are willing to let go of decision making, you will never reach Agility. So when your boss claims he wants Agile, look at the changes he is implementing in Finance and Procurement. If you do not see any changes there and you do not see decision making being decentralized, you will not see true Agility.

But remember it is a process. If a boss wants to call his company Agile, but is not yet there, then work with him. Take the bits and pieces of Agility he is embracing, run with them and keep spreading the news about how to make a business fully Agile.

The Beginnings

This is how most companies begin their journey to Agile:

  1. The boss reads up on it and maybe sends someone else for training or shares articles
  2. They will start doing “Stand-up meetings”, but they are not true stand-ups. Often you stand for 45-60min and simply stand through a normal update meeting.
  3. There will be attempts to define sprints, but they will often be sequential and the team has no real decision making powers.
  4. An Agile approach practitioner may or may join the team. He will have the position of “Agile Project Manager”, which in itself is a misnomer.
  5. Projects will continue being run mainly in waterfall, with some hybrid elements.
  6. Teams will be way too big to be Agile – remember an Agile team should be 5-7 people

If you see any of the above symptoms or all, don’t despair! At least you have started the journey into Agility. Usually the team members will start reading up on Agile, Training will be offered by the company. Then slowly, as more and more employees start preaching the Agile gospel, things will start to change.

What can you do?

You can play a big role pushing the Agile journey forward. Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t block the development – don’t complain
  • Keep preaching the gospel of Agile, in a kind and friendly way.
  • Keep discussing with your colleagues. Focus on the good parts
  • Read up on and understand Hybrid – it can be a stepping stone to fully Agile
  • Some projects can never be fully Agile – they have elements that have to follow each other in sequence and / or build up on each other. Embrace it!
  • Bring up suggestions about taking decision making to the team. Try to introduce it slowly. Remember your boss needs to unlearn old habits and still needs to fully understand that Agile needs to apply to all parts of the company
  • Keep in your mind, that Finance & Procurement will most likely be the last departments to change. They have the hardest learning process and the most to unlearn. And Senior Management needs to understand first that certain decisions can be made by junior people
  • Help your Senior Management by showing them that you and your team can make responsible decisions. Start by bringing them as suggestions and being part of the solution finding. Your Senior Managers will learn slowly
  • Suggest a pilot in Agile projects. They will not be fully Agile, but you can showcase how it is done
  • Practice with your team how to do Stand-up meetings, and teach them the difference to normal reporting meetings
  • Define which projects are suitable for an Agile approach and which are not
  • Help all stakeholders to move from thinking of deliverables to thinking of benefits. What do you want to achieve with this deliverable? What is the aim, what is the end goal? It will help all in their individual journey to Agile
  • Help people understand that Agile is about people, working with people, understanding people, empathy and working as a team. It is not just about outputs.
It is a Journey

The road to Agile and Agile Business is a long journey, we all need to keep learning new things and unlearning old habits. Make it fun and sit with your team / your colleagues challenging each other to move forward.

Take every little step the company makes in the right direction and embrace it. It may be frustrating and minuscule, but you are 1 step closer to becoming Agile. Do Retrospectives with your team and analyze where you have reached. Look back and admire how far you have come, then get ready for the next step forward.

You will eventually reach a much more Agile place and you will start enjoying the benefits. You will also learn a lot yourself and grow in Agile.

What to do when you feel you need to change your career

We all end up in frustrating situations at times, were we feel we just want to get out.

Have you ever been in a situation, where you feel so frustrated in your job that all you want is out? You feel like you have reached the end? It is not the end of the world! We all reach this point at times. Some of us reach it several times in our lives.

Take this as an opportunity! This is the chance to reassess where you are, where you want to go and what your next big goal is. Let me lay out a few steps I have successfully followed in this before:

1. Take a step back

Often when we are in this situation we are frustrated, feel worthless, ineffective or unsuccessful. This is a situation where you need a break! If you have leave, take at least a week off, more if you can. You need to relax and refresh your mind. Only then can you take a true step back and assess the situation carefully without the emotions.

Nature is the best healer

The first 2 days you simply relax. Don’t rush around doing chores or sorting out things. You need to relax. Nature is actually the best place to do this. Go for a hike, go for a walk in a forest, go on a short safari or road trip. Something totally different. During this time, purposely do NOT think about the situation. Just relax. Breath and treat yourself. Do some Yoga or practice mindfulness.

2. Analyze

When you have relaxed your brain, now you can sit down and analyze the situation carefully. You have created the relevant distance to be neutral and objective.

Think things through carefully, formulate goals, do a SWOT and fully analyze where you are and where you want to be.

I usually start with with a good analysis of the current situation:

  • What is making me frustrated in the situation?
  • How did I get there?
  • Why is it hurting me so? (There is always a reason when something affects you and that reason is inside you)
  • What could I have done differently?
  • What is my lesson learned?
  • Sometimes I do a SWOT of the different scenarios

I am sure you have noted these are all questions about myself. In a situation like this you need to focus on yourself. If you focus on the other person, you will only get angry and hurt and feel harmed. You end up with blame-game. However, if you focus on yourself you can analyze, define and get a lessons out of it. A threat becomes and opportunity.

Once I have analyzed the situation objectively I can now decide whether this is a time to learn, and persevere to come out stronger on the other side, or if it is a situation that is hurting me too much, not helping me and I need to get out.

3. Make a Decision & Plan

Once you have decided whether this is a situation that you need to persevere or move on, you need to make a plan. You can not just drop the pen and start acting.

Plan your next move carefully

Now you need to plan carefully to maneuver yourself out of the situation.

  • If you are staying you need to plan how to improve the situation –
    • do you need to get help?
    • Do you need a mentor or a Senior Managers help?
    • Do you need to move to a different position?
    • Will HR help you – don’t just dismiss them, they are actually there to help you and will often do more than you think
  • If you are planning to leave you also need to plan the next steps carefully
    • What kind of job will you look for?
    • How will you find it? Where?
    • What is your next career move?
    • How long can you still stay in the company without hurting your mental health too much? Sometimes you may need to move faster than you want to.
    • Decide what is more important: A good salary or a good work environment – but remember you are hurt at this time, so you will need to recover and you are not at your best
    • Do you need counselling?
    • Do you need time off before you look for a job? If so, how will you finance this?

I actually took 2 months off at the beginning of one year to recover from a very traumatic toxic work environment. This got me back into the right mental space and I was able to concentrate on my next venture.


Do not let money alone be the deciding factor! This is about your mental health and your professional growth. Yes, you do need a salary, but it is not worth sacrificing your mental health and your career for that well paying, but destructive job.

4. Get Help

When you realize you are stuck in certain destructive thought patterns, your thoughts are always resolving about the same issue without a way out, then you need outside help. This can happen to any of us, so do not feel like you are less successful, less strong, less worth or less resourceful. You can try any of the following:

  • Talk to a Coach to help you find your own solutions
  • Talk to a Mentor to learn from their experience
  • Use the help of a Counsellor to help you work through things
  • Talk to HR who can guide you on what to do
  • Get psychotherapy when you are in a hole you can’t get out of by yourself

Which solution of the above you need, depends on your situation as well as your personality and how deep you are stuck. For a good guidance you may need the help of a professional and that will most likely cost you money. Don’t think of it as a waste, this is an investment in your future. You are getting yourself unstuck and setting yourself up for future success.

5. Move on

Once you have made your decision it is time to move on.

Once you made your decision and got the help & input you needed, it is time to move on. Follow your decision and your laid out plan, don’t allow yourself to keep going back to the decision making. There is a big temptation and there will be doubts, but unless you have followed your laid out plan and tried it, you will never know if you are moving in the right decision. So focus on the way forward and take it 1 step at a time.

6. Mistakes to avoid

Here are a few mistakes many make, I have made some of them. Please avoid them and don’t fall in the trap, it will be detrimental.

  • Asking advice from friends only
  • Thinking you have to do it on your own
  • Feeling like you have failed
  • Thinking what happened is only the other person’s fault
  • Making rash decisions
  • Leaving before you have thought it through and analyzed the situation
  • Going back to the same employer you left
  • Staying on because the salary is good, even though you know the situation is toxic for you
  • Leaving without knowing how you will survive, or having a new job

These are all common mistakes, but they can totally derail your career and throw you back years. It is important to remain level headed and make wise decisions. Then once the decision is made stick to it. Even if you find after a bit that it may not have been perfectly right, please do not go back to where you came from.


All of us face situations at time that are difficult or toxic for us. That does not make you less worth or less successful. It is a time to regroup, analyze and find out what is going on and how do I move forward. It is actually an opportunity if you take it as one. Amazing things can come out of it.

Let’s keep analyzing our life and moving forward.

Work – Life Balance

Work – Life Balance is so much more than just having a gym membership.

Unfortunately many think work-life balance means you have time for exercise and work as priorities. My question then is:

When do you live?

I see so many people rushing from bed to the gym, to work, to lunch meeting, to work, to class, to homework etc… that they have no more time for themselves, their family or friends.

Work-life balance includes Rest

Yes, you heard me right. Rest needs to be part of the equation. If you think falling into bed at 11pm and sleeping only 6 hours until the alarm wakes you up again is resting, then please think again. There is a reason medical people will tell you our body needs 8hrs of sleep. Our cells, our brain and our entire body needs to rest to function well. But that is not enough rest. You also need to plan day time rest. For example you can plan to relax and play with your kids for the first 30min when you come home, or chat with your spouse. That way you have true rest between work and other activities. Even when you have finished in the gym and showered, take some 30min to rest. Switch off from exercise, relax and then start something new.

You will see it makes a big difference.

As you age you need more Rest

Take conscious time to just be. Practice mindfulness and just sit and feel the chair, feel the wind, hear the birds, or the kids on the street, here the early evening sounds in the neighborhood and breath. It makes a difference. Yes you will find you will be much less tense, have less headaches, lower your blood pressure even if you practice mindfulness.

Plan your free time

Unless you plan for your free time, you will just see it disappearing. Plan when you will exercise, when you will meet friends and when you will spend time with the family, but also spend time alone and time when you go for haircut, beauty treatments or whatever else you need. Plan your shopping.

All these are distinctly different activities, that we all need to somehow fit into our busy life. It is possible if you plan for them. I have certain times blocked out on my calendar for certain activities. This even includes one time slot a week to catch up with a friend one on one. I do not allow anything take these time slots away, unless it is a matter of life and death emergency.

This has led to a live that is much freer and gives me the feeling I have time for myself, I am not shortchanged.

Actually in my current situation I have even chosen to work less hours in employed work, so that I have time for writing, planning my future income as I slow down my work life with age and work on figuring out income streams that I will be able to maintain until old age.

I also plan my leave at the beginning of the year. This includes short trips with friends or with my significant other and one bigger trip per year. If I go for a conference in a different town or even country I plan at least 2 full days extra, so that I have some time to explore that town.

True work Life Balance is possible!

With some planning and focus true work-life balance is possible. This will lead to a much more relaxed life and I manage to fit in all the things I really want to do, while still having enough hours where I earn money.

Let’s all start planning our life better and include

  • rest
  • me-time
  • time with friends and family
  • fun
  • education
  • work
  • commute
  • networking
  • household things
  • doctor’s visits

Have a productive and rest-full day

Professional Ethics – What does this mean

#projectmanagement #leadership #ethics #professionalethics

When people think of ethics they often think of the big things like stealing, lying, taking bribes. An ethical live is made up of many little things. It is the every day things that count. Not just at work, but in your entire life.

Are you doing what is right? Are you ensuring others are better for meeting you?

If you are the person who:

  • Shouts at people
  • Is unfair
  • Discriminates, even against those perceived as “less valuable” – are you treating your maid or the askari at the gate as normal human beings as valuable as you are?
  • Bribes the police man to get away with a wrong or a perceived wrong?
  • Are you taking the bigger piece when cake is given out?
  • Do you keep the traffic laws? Or are you one of those over lappers and red light jumpers? 😉

You may laugh at some of my examples, or think I don’t know how “difficult” things are. Trust me! I know! I have been there, I have been going to Immigrations day after day to either get someone’s passport, or to follow my own work permit or paperwork. Yeah, the perceived “easy way” out is to pay a bribe. But let me tell you one thing: It is easily possible to get them, if you are persistent and simply do not listen to any talk of a bribe. I got my permanent residence that way.

Other aspects of ethics

Ethics also spreads to how you treat people around you. How do you treat your team? Are you the one who talks badly about others? Are you putting them down? Rubbishing what they do or say?

Here are a few pointers for how to be the ethical team player:

  • Treat all equal
  • Listen to all
  • Check yourself for any inner filters, biases or prejudices and remove them from your mind
  • Speak up for those treated differently
  • Be sensitive
  • Check if all are comfortable in the team. If one isn’t then find out what is going on and deal with it

I think you are getting the gist, you can wrap it up in 1 sentence:

Be a Servant Leader!

Ethical Behavior is rewarding

If you teach yourself to be ethical in all circumstances and treat all ethical than you will see how this narrow path that not many go is rewarding. You will not only earn true respect and people will know what you stand for, but you will feel the deep satisfaction that comes with doing the right thing.

PMI Code of Ethics

All PMI Members, certification holders and volunteers are bound by the PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct. When did you last look at it?

It gives a clear guidance on how we should behave and engage with each other. Check out the link I have given on that page you not only find the PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct in downloadable format, but many links to additional resources.

Once you familiarize yourself you will see it is not that difficult and a lot goes along with values you probably grew up with and are familiar with.

Let’s all strive to become more ethics orientated and embrace the Code of Ethics as a lifestyle

Get your name out there

You may wonder what Social Media has to do with being a great project manager….  Well I am just listening to one of my favorite speakers Spencer Horn in one of his podcasts on LinkedIn.


Hacking LinkedIn To Improve Teamwork

Wow there are more new ways of using LinkedIn even for improving team work. This is interesting!

But my main point actually is, if you talk about topics within your specialty, you will become known as a specialist or an authority. Giving thoughtful comments on LinkedIn or Twitter increases your visibility and gives you credibility.

Be careful what you post

Your LinkedIn is not for social things. Concentrate on professional things there. Also make a conscious decision on Twitter what you want to use it for, social or professional. I use mine for purely professional things. Hence I do not even connect with people who use it for political statements or for social things. This is just a decision I made. I keep Facebook for social things.

These days employer do check your social media platforms. Even if you use a different name on your Facebook for example, you can easily be found if you put your phone number on it, even if is was hidden. But the easiest way to deal with social media is to always remember:

  • What you post is public
  • It can be found
  • What you post does NOT go away
Be active

To build a name you need to be active. The more active you are the higher you will appear in any search. So spend time on LinkedIn to be noticed. Richard Bliss recommends that you make 2 thoughtful comments 5 days a week. Make them on other people’s posts, or repost something with your own comments. Likes alone will not really improve your rating.

Use the power of # and @

I didn’t believe these things are so powerful. I actually thought this is just some fashion thing young people do. But when I started using them, my hits went up drastically. Think of it:

  • every time someone searches a keyword that you are using as hashtag, you will be found.
  • every time you tag someone or a company, anyone connected to them can see what you posted.
  • Your favorite hashtags determine also what people will find you for. For example I want to be known for project management, leadership and servant leadership. Therefore I choose my hashtags are around these 3. Choose the hashtags you use carefully.

You see it is not difficult to be visible! Let’s increase our visibility today