Early research into Agile approaches explored particular practices or quantified improvements in code production. Less well researched is how Agile teams are managed. The project manager (PM) role is traditionally one of “command and control” but Agile methods require a more facilitative approach. How this changing role plays out in practice is not yet clearly understood. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into how adopting Agile techniques shape the working practices of PMs and critically reflect on some of the tensions that arise.
An ethnographic approach was used to surface a richer understanding of the issues and tensions faced by PMs as Agile methods are introduced. Ethnographic fiction conveys the story to a wider audience.
Agile approaches shift responsibility and spread expert knowledge seeming to undermine the traditional PM function. However, the findings here show various scenarios that allow PMs to wrest control and become more of a “gate-keeper”. Ethnographic fiction communicates a sense of the PMs frustration with the conflict between the need to control and the desire for teams to take more responsibility.
Stories provide insight and communicate the experiential feel behind issues faced by PMs adopting Agile to surface useful knowledge. The objective is not how to measure knowledge, but how to recognize it. These reflections are valuable to fellow researchers as well as practitioners and contribute to the growing literature on Agile project management.
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