A recent question about skill requirements for project managers of agile teams led me to write this:
In traditional project management, “project manager” means “person who is in charge”. In other words, that person makes the decisions, with varying degrees of depth (sometimes it’s high-level, sometimes it’s micro-management).
Agile doesn’t have somebody in change – inherent in the concept of agile is that the group is responsible and the group decides.
There *is* somebody who facilates (scrummaster in scrum, coach in XP), but their job is very explicitly not to make decisions. That means that the person who takes that role needs to be mindful of that and willing to push any decisions that rise up back down to the time. If the person has previous experience (and a preference) for “being in charge”, they are unlikely to do a good job in that role. If they aren’t thoughful about group dynamics in general, they may not do a good job in that role.
Double that comment if the group is not experienced with making decisions together. If they tend to defer upwards and the facilitator is used to making decisions, you probably won’t get a good result.