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The Continuum of Delivery

Traditional project management and agile ways of working live on the same continuum.

They aren't enemies. They are two sides of the same coin.

On one side, you have predictive certainty. Widgets and black-and-white policies fit to specification. Things that have the exact same input, creation process, and output. This is the domain of project management, which is excellent at managing fixed scope in the pursuit of consistent (i.e. the same) quality outputs.

On the other, you have adaptive uncertainty. Ideas and experiences. Things that have variable inputs, dynamic processes, and complex outputs. This is the domain of agile ways of working, which are excellent at managing fixed cost and time in the pursuit of variable -- but always improving -- outputs.

And both sides of the spectrum require inspection and learning throughout the process (this is where lean comes in).

Every company on Earth has work that spans this spectrum. So, every company on Earth needs both skillsets.

The "fight" or issue arises when you use the wrong approach for the wrong kind of work, flipping the two instead of applying the right way of working to the right kind of problem. The conflict gets worse because 1) people tend to use the methodology that's in their job title and 2) work always ladders into other work, where companies take a one size fits all approach to manage ALL of the work in a portfolio as opposed to getting it right at each level or altitude.

The lesson? Pick the right approach for the right kind of work and start small, while setting light and lean boundaries on how your teams can manage their own work.

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