Exploring is how agile teams execute. Rather than stepping through a prescriptive plan, agile teams execute through a series of planned experiments, a series of feature deliveries, a series of attempts to create a concrete formulation of the product vision within the boundaries of a business model.
Exploring is accomplished by competent, self-disciplined teams led by competent managers who create self-organized environments. Team members work in a semi-autonomous fashion, striving to meet iteration plans that they themselves have had a hand in constructing, managing their own workload, collaborating to generate innovative ideas, and applying specific technical practices aimed at building adaptable products that in turn facilitate the very exploration process that they are employing .
Project managers (and product managers) are direct contributors to the team's exploring process. They encourage rather than motivate; they are demanding, but not arbitrary; they empower the team, but make certain decisions themselves; they coach rather than criticize; and they facilitate rather than command. Effective agile project managers work hard to unleash the talent and abilities of their teams by focusing their efforts, molding individuals into jelled teams, developing each individual's capabilities, providing resources to the team, working with customers and stakeholders, and facilitating a participatory decision-making process.
Anyone who still believes that the project manager's role is to buy pizza and get out of the way is ignoring the abundant research on successful projects over the last 15 or more years . Conversely, anyone who believes that project management is mainly about prescriptive tasks , schedules, resource charts , and preordained plans will have a rude awakening trying to apply these ideas to volatile product development projects.
The Agile Revolution
Guiding Principles: Customers and Products
Guiding Principles: Leadership-Collaboration Management
An Agile Project Management Model
The Envision Phase
The Speculate Phase
The Explore Phase
The Adapt and Close Phases
Building Large Adaptive Teams