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  • Writer's pictureBrian Davidson, PMP, CSM

Applying the Agile Scrum Mantra of "People over Process" in Traditional Project Management

The agile scrum methodology operates on a foundation of adaptability and responsiveness, with an emphasis on nurturing a productive environment through the principle of "people over process." Even in traditional project management spheres, where structured planning forms the bedrock of project initiatives, there is growing cognizance of the pivotal role of team dynamics in determining project outcomes. It begs the investigation into how deeply ingrained practices can morph to foster a people-centric approach during the execution phase without dispensing with the necessary preliminaries such as the project charter and work breakdown structure.

The Genesis – Charter and Work Breakdown

Charter – The Project’s North Star

In the embryonic stages of a project, the charter stands tall as the North Star, offering guidance and articulating the objective and scope that delineate the boundaries within which the project navigates. It is an essential blueprint, forged through collaborative efforts and insights, capturing the project's essence and charting the course to its desired destination.

Work Breakdown Structure – Crafting the Path

Beyond the charter lies the diligent task of breaking down the project into manageable chunks through the creation of a work breakdown structure. It translates the project's vision into tangible tasks and deliverables, carving out a pathway to realization by delineating responsibilities and timelines.

Entering the Execution Phase – A Shift in Focus

As the project transitions from planning to the execution phase, there emerges a vital inflection point where the focus shifts discernibly from processes to people. It is a pivot from a world of meticulous planning into a living, breathing ecosystem where the project evolves in real-time, guided not just by pre-defined plans but the collective energy and expertise of the team.

Daily Dynamics Over Weekly Routines

Herein, daily dynamics start to supersede weekly routines. Instead of congregating weekly to pore over project plans and activity lists, the emphasis shifts to day-to-day engagements where individuals are cognizant of their tasks and committed to fulfilling them. It is about fostering a culture of self-accountability where team members steer their courses adeptly with a clear understanding of their roles.

Transformative Team Engagements

Moreover, team meetings undergo a transformation. They metamorphose from sessions of status updates to working sessions pulsating with vibrant discussions and collaborative problem-solving, turning potential roadblocks into avenues of progress.

The People-centric Approach – Unleashing Potentials

Harnessing Individual Strengths

In this people-centric paradigm, the project management lens widens to encompass not just tasks but the individuals behind them. It is about recognizing and harnessing individual strengths, fostering environments where talents can blossom and align harmoniously towards common goals.

Dynamic Task Management

Task management evolves from a static list into a dynamic entity, adapting to the rhythms of the team's energies. It is about transforming the energy of the team from planning into a kinetic force of doing, where actions speak louder than documented plans.

Balancing People and Process – The Symbiotic Relationship

Maintaining the Symbiotic Relationship

As we traverse this path of people over processes, it is crucial to acknowledge that this is not about abandoning the process. It is about forging a more harmonious relationship where processes serve people, facilitating them to bring their best selves to the project.

The Fluidity of Plans

Plans, though crafted meticulously, start to embrace fluidity, allowing space for adaptability and innovation. It becomes a living document, evolving organically as the project navigates through the dynamics of real-time challenges and opportunities.

Practical Manifestations of the People-centric Approach

Creating a Nurturing Environment

A crucial aspect of pivoting to a people-centric approach is creating an environment that nurtures individual talents and fosters collaborative synergies. It is about moving beyond the transactional relationship of task allocation to fostering a space where individuals can thrive, bringing their unique perspectives and strengths to the table.

Empowerment Through Autonomy

Empowering individuals through autonomy in task management emerges as a pivotal strategy. It's about entrusting team members with the ownership of their roles, fostering a sense of responsibility, and creating a canvas where individuals can paint with broader strokes of creativity and initiative.


As we navigate through the nuanced landscape of integrating the agile scrum mantra of "people over process" into traditional project management spheres, we discern a transformative potential that goes beyond methodologies and processes.

By championing the human elements — the unique strengths, creativity, and collaborative spirits of team members — projects can evolve into dynamic entities, pulsating with a life force of their own. It is a journey from static plans to living organisms, where teams navigate not just through structured pathways but through the vibrant currents of collective energies and synergies.

In essence, it is about forging a journey that honors the initial charter and work breakdown structure while embracing the vibrant, dynamic tapestry of human potentials in the execution phase. It is an exploration into a realm where projects breathe, grow, and evolve through a harmonious dance of people and processes, guided by a spirit of collaboration, adaptability, and a pulsating drive towards realization.

Through this lens, project management transforms into a living, breathing entity, adapting, growing, and evolving through the vibrant interplay of people and processes. It is about crafting journeys that are not just defined by endpoints but enriched with the collective energies, talents, and potentials unleashed through a people-centric approach, steering projects towards destinations with a spirit of unity, creativity, and vibrant collaborative energies, forging paths that are not just successful but joyously harmonious and pulsating with life.


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