Agile Transformation at an International Media Conglomerate: Based on a True Story | Part One

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Agile Transformation at an International Media Conglomerate: Based on a True Story

Scott M. Graffius, CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™, helps companies achieve their strategic objectives and business initiatives through project management leadership. A fantastic agile transformation outcome with a client organization in the entertainment industry was the inspiration for Scott's award-winning book,
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. This is the story behind the book—told by Scott. Identifying details have been changed and certain elements are not included.

This article is the first installment of the eight-part story.

Part One: The Call


The assistant to the executive vice president (EVP) of technology for a division of a global entertainment company contacted me by phone. I was told that I was referred by someone who knew me and thought I would be a good fit for contract work. A one-hour consultation with the EVP was scheduled for the next day. I then received an email with several attachments including a non-disclosure agreement which needed to be executed and brought to the meeting.

I brought the documents to the session. The EVP explained that his division of the company was experiencing an alarming trend of problems with project management. He reported that deliverables were not meeting expectations, there was a marked decline in satisfaction, and
this was characterized as "the straw that broke the camel's back"a highly skilled and very well-respected team member quit, citing the problems as her reason for departure.

After an hour with the EVP, we agreed to extend the meeting (initially, my complimentary consult) an additional hour (billable time). I learned that this division of the company previously used a traditional plan-driven/waterfall approach for development and delivery. The EVP explained that things worked reasonably well then and that they were "close enough" to being on-scope, on-budget, and on-time that team members and stakeholders were satisfied.

The EVP explained, however, that he wanted to adopt a model (Scrum) employed by some of the other divisions of the company. The EVP said that he conducted a search for a value-added reseller (VAR) to help his group move to agile. A VAR-partner of a popular software solution was selected, and the VAR transitioned the group to Scrum. Reportedly, very few problems surfaced during the VAR's contractual engagement, which ended two weeks into the first sprint (then, the duration for sprints was four weeks). Many problems surfaced subsequently, however. The VAR had been gone for two months at the time of my meeting with the EVP.

The EVP asked me to make things right. I explained that change depends on many people and multiple factors and that a specific end result could not be guaranteed. I suggested, however, that I'd be honored to work with his group in the first step
an assessmentwhich would help inform the subsequent work of foundational planning. The objectives of the assessment include working closely with the EVP, the Scrum Team and stakeholders to understand their goals—and the environment, roles and practices. He asked me when I could start. I asked him when he needed me, and he replied "immediately." I agreed to start the next day.

Agile Transformation at an International Media Conglomerate: Based on a True Story continues with Part Two: The Goals.


© Copyright 2019 Scott M. Graffius. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written permission of Scott M. Graffius.

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