Agile Project Management Delegation and Authority

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The article “Understanding the Four Levels of Delegation When Managing People in Business,” by Rory J. McLaren-Jackson caught my eye as a kind of formula for getting delegation decisions right. Upon further reading, the article opens the door for discussion and how this relates to the APM (Agile Project Manager). Agile teams are empowered and as such are granted authority within the bounds of an overall project scope. When you look deeper under the covers, you might find the APM performing the delegation function in a more subtle manner. The goal of the APM as it relates to delegation is to maximize the use of the talent available on the team and to be the catalyst for “minimalizing” the amount of work that it takes to deliver working software. Let’s look at some categories of tasks and resources to see how authority is managed internally in an Agile team. Task Criticality Task criticality cannot be measured by risk. The APM cannot simply take the product of the impact and the probability of failure to arrive at a risk factor and call it “Task Criticality.” This is true on an Agile team because the talent spectrum of an Agile team can have resources that completely mitigate the probability of failure. Resource Skill Level Resource skill level cannot be measured with a simple T-shirt size on an Agile team. The APM doesn’t simply look at Senior, Junior or other simplified monikers to make a resource assignment choice. The Agile team has again, a spectrum of skills distributed across the group with varying levels of experience that changes with each person. If you approach the problem of delegation with authority and risk in mind, your only avenue to complete any task hinges on how many over-qualified people you can assemble. On an Agile team, the entire spectrum of contributors, regardless of qualification levels, contribute to the full extent of their talent, which surprisingly to some, is not the same as their skill. Consider a delegation matrix that leverages Agile concepts:

For the Agile team, focusing on only the authority aspect of delegation clouds the team’s innate ability to respond to new challenges in ways never thought of before. APMs use a complete picture of the task, the individual and the authority in the delegation cycle which allows Agile teams to bring to bear as much talent as possible.

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