IPMA International Project Management Association
8 May 2019 / 10:00

Release 3 of the Handbook for Agile Practices published

Two years ago the Special Interest Group “Management 4.0” of the German Project Management Association (GPM) published the first release of “Management 4.0 – Handbook for Agile Practices”. Recently, the third release has been made available too…

It covers three parts. Part I highlights the foundations of Agile, the second part is about “Become Agile and Stay Agile” and the third part illustrates “Agile Management in Practice”. Who should read this Handbook? It´s written for anyone who is interested in agility or needs to be agile and for those who seek deeper knowledge about what keeps the agile world together.


By reading the book you will get the following:


  • A systemic picture of agility – to enable you to analyse your system (your team, your department, your company or your business network) and identify fields of agile application and the specific need for agility.
  • The ingredients of an Agile Mindset – this allows you to transform your organization and develop an agile culture for your organization.
  • The theoretical foundation of agile principles – so that you can really understand and assess the value of all the expert ideas for you and your organization.
  • Necessary skills to tailor organization specific agile frameworks without losing essential ingredients.
  • Input for your own reflections – you will be capable of innovating agility and be ahead of the main stream.


One of the chapters deals with “Self-Organization”,  a universal phenomenon which regulates complexity and leads to emergent systemic behaviour. It may be used to build high-performance teams or high-performance multi-project organizations. However, far too often it is used as a buzzword in the agile community. In agile frameworks such as Scrum it particularly means that team members have the “right” to define how they solve a problem, not what problem they solve. Through a scientific lens, the self-organization is being responsible for many  (or perhaps all) cooperative natural, social or technical phenomena. The formation of swarms of birds or schools of fish, many autocatalytic chemical reactions, the behaviour of societies and laser systems are all self-organized systems. They are based on complexity and display newly emerging systemic patterns. One of the editors, Dr Alfred Oswald describes that the principles of self-organization can also be used to regulate complex social systems, creating high-performance organizations… They are typically regulated by three types of parameters: Setting parameters, control parameters and order parameters. With the setting parameters, value-destroying complexity is excluded and stability is introduced. For example, separating a team in a special room for preventing interference with the environment and building up team focus. A control parameter may allow team members to reveal their personal strengths. For example, balancing the work load and avoiding burnout is one, or prioritizing activities based on the overall strategic direction may be another. Finally, the order parameter(s) are about goal orientation and a “collective mind” of the team… More about these parameter in the 3rd Release of the Handbook for Agile Practices and – in addition – in the book “Project Management at the Edge of Chaos”.


One of the last chapters (Agile in Practice) is about “fuckup stories”. Through these stories people describe problems they faced and errors they have made by applying agile practices. One of the “fuckup stories” is about the potential “social romanticism” in agile management. People may perceive agile practices as getting more freedom to do whatever they like to do as well as self-responsibility for delivering what each individual feels capable or motivated of doing. However, the higher management may see this from a different angle and it needs a sound facilitation of the divergent and too often conflicting interests between the many stakeholders in and between organisations. Fuckup Nights are getting increasingly popular, this may be one of the next blogposts.

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.