Friday, October 9, 2009

Jazz Band Conductor a.k.a. Agile Project Manager

I though in a interesting analogy the other day, if you hear a jazz band (and hopefully a good one) you'd realize that the conductor encourages improvisation. Actually, improvisation is a distinctive characteristic of jazz music.

The conductor is someone that is deeply familiar with the instruments and music, but not necessarily plays with the band. What is important for him is that everybody plays good jazz and the audience gets satisfied. Making every musician in the band happy is of course a priority, happy people are generally more willing to improvise.

There's of course an style to follow and a lot of training, all these required for being able to improvise in the first place. But the goal is always at sight, have fun and play good jazz. Again, the conductor don't tell the team what to do, he let the team create and help it to reach the next level. This is certainly a lesson that we can translate for Agile Project Managers.

On the opposite side, this guy has everything figure out from beginning to end-or at least he likes to think so-, everybody in the chorus has to sing exactly what has been rehearsed endless times.

No deviations from the score are allowed, improvisation is not specially highly rewarded. Do you see any similarities with traditional Project Management?


  1. It's like classic music (not from the 60's, of course), the guys who could do it were merely geniuses. Extraordinary skillful people that created music that we still listen.

    But, how often do you find people like them?

  2. Hi Timo,

    People like this exist and many of them are maybe already in your organization, the challenging part is in identifying them, put them in a team and unleash their creativity.

    Just imagine, people that work in the software industry have all the formation and technical background, is just a matter of changing how they envision teamwork.

  3. I would say that a PMP is highly respected within both IT & non-IT communities where strong project management skills are required. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the leading training providers like . You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.