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Episode 291: Being Agile in a Waterfall World (Free)

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Joseph Flahiff & Cornelius Fichtner

This Interview with Joseph Flahiff, was recorded at the PMI Global Congress 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.

During the conference, Joseph handed out hundreds of buttons that read "Agile is not a Noun". Instead, he says during the interview, Agile is a state of being. And that was one of the reasons why he wrote his new book Being Agile in a Waterfall World: A practical Guide for Complex Organizations.

In the interview we focus a lot on the "Mental Shifts" section from the book. You will learn about Command & Control, Competitive Advantages, Optimized Systems and also Why Agility is important.

Joseph closes the interview by giving us his top 3 tips on how to more forward in being Agile. For those who want more in-depth information, why don't you participate in one of Joseph's upcoming classes with the same title as the book: Being Agile in a Waterfall World: A practical Guide for Complex Organizations.. (We are a compensated affiliate and receive a commission if you click and register for the class.)

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: You are listening to The Project Management Podcast™ at and we are once again coming to you from the PMI Global Congress 2014 in Phoenix.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:And with me this morning is Joseph Flahiff. Good morning, Joseph!

Joseph Flahiff: Good morning, Cornelius! How are you this morning?

Cornelius Fichtner: I am very well, thank you. I've had a cup of tea, an interesting continental breakfast and a discussion about leadership. What have you done so far?

Joseph Flahiff: Very much the same. I had some coffee this morning. I wake me up and sat at the table discussing mixed Agile and Waterfall context.

Cornelius Fichtner: Mixed Agile and Waterfall context. It is a fabulous segway. I knew you were going to do this because our discussion this morning is about your book which is titled "Being Agile in a Waterfall World". When did it come out?

Joseph Flahiff: It came out about 2 weeks before congress.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, so this is hot off the press.

Joseph Flahiff: Hot off the press.

Cornelius Fichtner: Why did you write the book?

Joseph Flahiff: I wrote the book because there is a lot of confusion out there in the market about what it means to be Agile and what Agile means. A lot of people in traditional sequential organizations, I don’t like the word "Waterfall" but I put it in the title because that's what people know.

There are people that are struggling with trying to be Agile in this market where our budgets are fixed; our scopes are fixed; our contracts are fixed. What do I do? How do I make that work?

Cornelius Fichtner: Who is the book really for? Is it more for project managers? Is it a general book? Who would you say should read this?

Joseph Flahiff: It's actually a general book. It is for anyone from executive level to a person working on a project, the APMs, developers if you're in the software context. That's another piece that I was intentional about in the book is, it is not written to software development context.

I mentioned software in one of the chapters, but in most of the book, it's just about what it means. What does Agile mean and how can you be Agile in any context because business today needs to be Agile. Organizations need to be Agile so it's really about the greater concept of agility than it is about a particular individual approach or a particular individual industry.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! Please continue to develop that thought because in the abstract of the book, it says: The book provides a perspective for being Agile in any organization. So what exactly, where does this take us?

Joseph Flahiff: Markets today, I'm not the first one to say this and I won't be the last. Markets today are changing ridiculously fast, right? Organizations that don’t adapt quickly to the changing market conditions will go away. They will struggle mightily as the music industry has, as any number of industries. Banking industries are struggling because everybody and their mother is getting into banking nowadays.

It used to be that you can only get a loan through the financial institution. Now you can get a loan from the corner drugstores. Everybody online offers you credit in one way or another and markets are fundamentally shifting and businesses need to understand what, how do I survive in this?

In the book, I talk about writing the book itself and the printing book market has fundamentally shifted. The book is self-published and I interviewed, I don’t know, a dozen people who have books both published by publishers and who did independent publishing. And 2 persons, they said, do it independent. Using a publisher didn’t get me what I thought it would.

And that's not to say that if you have a relationship with a publisher, you shouldn’t continue with that relationship. They may be providing great things for that pre-established relationship. By the time I got done with this looking at it, I found they used to call self-publishing 'vanity publishing' but the only reasons I could come up with to use a publisher were vanity reasons. "I have a publisher, ho, ho, ho" So it has completely shifted, right? The vanity is now in having a publisher. Not the other way around.

Cornelius Fichtner: So you used Agile approaches then in "any industry" and in your case, publishing your book using Agile approaches?

Joseph Flahiff: Yeah!

Cornelius Fichtner: In the abstract, it also says that it will identify misuses and you mentioned this earlier. Of the world Agile in the software industry that have contributed to confusion and misconception, so what are those misuses and how can we work around these confusions?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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