Cumbersome is the opposite of Agile; here's why

It’s good to be pro-Agile but it’s also important to be anti-Cumbersome

You know them when you see them; unwieldy and inefficient projects that take ages to deliver and no-one really knows how to start untangling and fixing them. Many projects have to be large and complex simply because of their scope – but they can still be well run. Waterfall projects are prone to becoming unmanageable but they are not cumbersome by definition unless they are allowed to become that way; I have seen many well run waterfall projects. [paragraph 1 of 5]

Even Agile projects set out to stay nimble and responsive yet they run off the rails and quickly become cumbersome. How can you avoid this? It’s best to know the symptoms of cumbersome projects ahead of time – like an early diagnosis of cancer, you can address it if you do so quickly and decisively, or else you lose the patient. These are three of my experiences of unwieldy and inefficient project symptoms and should be taken with a pinch of the proverbial salt. [2/5]

Cumbersome projects are often named with a long winded acronym. The impressive sounding “LTSMMSI” is expanded to Long Term Strategic Market Monitoring Software Implementation. Note how the project itself is named rather than its output – this places an unintended focus on the organisational, hierarchical and culture nature of the project itself rather than what it is delivering; it becomes a whole entity in its own right (in some cases an actual department). [3/5]

Cumbersome projects have their own (usually top heavy) organisational charts which become political hot potatoes and the subject of long debates. A list of the people and teams on a project is important but projecting the energy-sapping corporate politics of solid and dotted lines onto resource constrained projects is a recipe for disaster. Again, the org chart defines the programme, and overshadows something far more important: what the project is actually delivering. [4/5]

Cumbersome projects are also sensitive about delivery dates. Rather than experts agreeing on calculated dates based on scope and capacity, top-down nervousness about dates creates fear and paranoia, sucking the life out of the programme and sacrificing trust and collaboration. Projects can still be successful even if they exhibit the above 3 symptoms; however its better not to take a chance – read the signs and sort out the root cause before the cancer spreads and it’s too late. [5/5]

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