The Ten Golden Rules for Successful Agile Projects

I’m blogging the conference Agile Approaches for Delivering Business Value

**The Ten Golden Rules for Successful Agile Projects

** Keith Richards, Keith Richards Consulting


  • Agile approaches to projects are maturing and becoming mainstream, yet some are more successful than others
  • This presentation describes the ten golden rules that will increase the chances of success, and make the difference between an “OK” project and an “excellent” project.
  • The golden rules also highlight what NOT to do.


Keith Richards – process/method consultant, specialising in Agile projects. Author of “Agile Project Management” (TSO). Led team for DSDM Atern.

The Golden Rules

No survey – just first hand experience…

  1. Define the project objective in less than 10 words
  2. Build a team with those who say “can”
  3. Go slow early to go fast later
  4. Look backwards to go forwards
  5. Change is great!
  6. To be understood, seek first to understand
  7. Collect actuals – “oxygen” for your project
  8. Use fat communication channels
  9. Work hard at controlling what you can’t control
  10. One more day? NO! We’ll catch up NO!

If you can’t understand the rationale for doing a project you shouldn’t be doing it! Expect to spend half a day writing the <10 words.

Good people above good process – in fact good people more important than that they have the skills. Test: ask “Can I ask a favour?”

How much design up front (DUF) is enough? Answer: Enough! But try and avoid grabbing early at solutions. Test: “Is it safe to move on?”

ALWAYS have project reviews! Kaizen is vital.

Embrace change… How do you feel when the customer changes their mind? Should be happy! Change to get a closer fit to the business need (depth change) is good – change in breadth might be a problem… (signals possible issue with project objective)

Facilitation and influencing skills are core competencies for Agile projects – especially for the project manager. Try the 10 second silence when getting a progress update!

Measuring actuals – start now, start simple, start using to calibrate your estimates…

Communication – go visual, use workshops, never write when you can talk…

Continuously manage external risks – be “a bit of a worrier” – actively manage your risk log!

Time focus is your greatest weapon. Force the issue – timeboxes, not milestones. If you are going to fail, fail early. Never extend deadlines.

Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change