I’m a Tour de France addict. I bicycle like those guys only in my dreams. But when I was watching the race last night, I realized something: the riders who are in a position to win the Tour are adaptable riders. They don’t excel at just sprinting, or just mountains, or just rolling-hills, or just endurance. They have enough endurance and skill in all of the riding conditions to stay competitive every day. They adapt their knowledge of the road, their practice in each type of riding, and their preferences for each type of riding to the current moment’s conditions.
So what the heck does this have to do with development? If you’re staffing a project, make sure you have enough people who are adaptable to several types of work. Maybe that means you need an architect who can also mow down defects. Maybe that means you use people who can pair with anyone else at any time. Maybe that means you have testers who can also design test architectures. It definitely means that as a project manager, you need more than one approach to project management.
The riskier the project, the more adaptable the people need to be. That way the project team can work itself out of any problems that arise. I’ll be avidly watching the Tour to watch the cycling and to see what problems arise and what the teams and individual cyclists solve them.