Gorilla Agile and the PMO

Trying to introduce an Agile ecosystem into an organisation can often start to fall foul of the established Project Management Office (PMO) governance processes.  A PMO framework often mandates delivery gates with policed entry and exit criteria, mapped to the Waterfall delivery stages.  They can mandate detailed written up-front requirements and plans, big batch hand-offs from delivery stage to stage, design decisions are made and locked in early.  Efforts to introduce agile practices often bump into the PMO framework, and can start to cause resentment or “Gorilla” Agile forming, where teams adopt the practices, but keep it quiet, and present a façade to the PMO.

Gorilla Agile is understandable, but this approach is not going to build for a healthy and mature adoption of an Agile ecosystem, along with reaping its benefit for your business.  Its worth understanding the drivers for the PMO, and its measures of success, as this drives the behaviours.

PMOs are measured by showing control and clear regular reporting of status of the Project Portfolio, around the traditional project trade off triangle (Scope, Time, Resource, Quality).  Their customers, senior management, want visibility, predictability and healthy risk management of the Portfolio.  Only by understanding this, can you have a clear and meaningful debate on how you could move towards an Agile ecosystem. The Fast Waterfall Project Management model can provide a “softer landing” framework for the PMO Group to adopt, as you evolve and drive out a faster, and faster delivery model in your organisation.

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