Thought Leadership in Project Management: with Heitor Roriz Filho, Agile Coach and Trainer


Heitor Roriz Filho

Heitor Roriz Filho is an “agilero”. He currently works as an Agile Coach and Trainer worldwide, based in Sao Paulo. He is a writer, speaker and trainer in the area of Technology Management. He has been dealing with Agile since 2004 and in addition to speaking for Agile/Scrum, Six Sigma and PMI conferences, he is the founder activist of the ScrumAmazonia user group. He is also the co-founder and Agile Coach of Massimus ( a company focused on APM (Agile Project Management) training and coaching. He holds a M.Sc. in Information Technology from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Has worked and gathered experience in companies like Itautec-Philco SA, DaimlerChrysler AG, Fraunhofer Institut, FPF (Fundação Paulo Feitoza), among others. He worked for 3 years as a ScrumMaster and Product Owner for FPF and Siemens-Mobile where he also coached teams to implement and improve Scrum in projects. During 2+ years he worked as Information Manager for the local government at Municipal Institute of Urban Planning where he applied Scrum outside of software, in architectural and building projects. He participated as a reasearch assistant in projects belonging to LBA (Large-scale Biosphere-atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia) at INPA ( in cooperation with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Agency). Heitor is a passionate for Agile and Scrum. He truly believes Agile can change the way we work achieving excellence levels of precision and performance. He is very interested in Agile Leadership and Agile Project Management as levers of improving our ways of work.

  1. How did your project management career get started?

It started in 2004 when I got an engagement as a software developer in an experimental project funded by Siemens Mobile in Brazil. Few months after the project started it grew exponentially and I attended a CSM training by Martine Devos (today my colleague). I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I received and started learning about Scrum and Project Management (studying the PMBOK).

  1. How did you obtain your project management education and training?

I attend for a few months a PMP prep course back in 2005. Back then the prep courses were very long in duration! In the meantime I also attended a CSM training as mentioned above, which is a 2-day training course. I immediately identified that Scrum not only delivers but if well implemented assures higher quality standards and people engagement. So I kept studying the PMBOK by my own and kept on experimenting with Scrum. During my experimentations I had a terrific opportunity to exchange 2 days of project management knowledge with a Six Sigma Black Belt from Sony: I taught him Scrum and he gave me an overview of DMAIC (an instantiation of Deming’s Cycle) and Six Sigma statistics applied to projects. I fell in love with statistics applied to Project Management and have been applying it in my projects until today. In 2011 I had the tremendous opportunity to find like-minded individuals and we founded a company called Massimus. So my customers usually hire me through this company. Few years later I got the PMI-ACP certification (2013).

  1. Can you please summarize your industry, and share how organizations are applying project management in the workplace?

I work with several industries, mostly with the IT industry. Since Scrum can be applied in several knowledge areas and not only software, I have had the opportunity to coach and execute projects in Logistics, Software Development, HR and Sales. These projects were in the following industries: IT, Aeronautics, Insurance, Finance, Oil, Government, Service and Health. What I have identified, is that no matter the industry, if an organization builds software or outsources software development, be it as its end activity or not, they all want to do Scrum or demand that Scrum is used.

So the industries are applying Scrum because it is needed today due to the hyper-competitive environment, where a very short time-to-market and agile ideas validation are mandatory. In a hyper-competitive environment project requirements are nothing but hypothesis that need validation. In terms of Scrum implementation, we can categorize organizations in two: those that do it for real and engage Scrum coaches and those that see Scrum as too simple to engage third-party coaches. Both can succeed but considering probabilities and due to the current organizational mind-set the latter will fail. Agile is part of the new zeitgeist and even though it is simple, it is complex to master and that is counter-intuitive enough for some.

  1. Do you see any trends in your industry as it relates to project management and other related methodologies?

Organizations are at a tipping point. The general trend is not creating knowledge anymore but being able to incorporate into the organization’s DNA the creation and use of knowledge as a competitive advantage. Innovation will become commonplace. Agile is happening at the operational level of organizations but closer to the top, where strategy and budgets are developed, there are other movements belonging to the new zeitgeist, like Beyond Budgeting and Radical Management. This is something that every CEO needs to know in order to understand why and how projects are being executed and planned with Scrum.

  1. What is your advice to people that are interested in pursuing a career in project management within your industry?

I recommend project professionals to be versatile. Do not focus solely on one methodology or concept, but create your project management bag of tools. Start experimenting with multiple concepts, use Scrum as an underlying experimentation framework and pack your bag with concepts like Lean Six Sigma, PMBOK, IPMA, Prince2, Process Engineering, Software Engineering, Statistics. Whenever you have the opportunity, sharpen your skills.

  1. I noticed you have earned several certifications. What type of value has these certifications provided to you in your career?

I have a Master in Information Technology I got at the Stuttgart University in Germany. This was a quite technical education and I therefore pursued a project management certification, namely the ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner). Due to my technical background I identified I needed a soft-skill approach, and pursued a CSM (Certified ScrumMaster). Besides the ACP and CSM, I possess the CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner) and CSD (Certified Scrum Developer). Since I always loved teaching, I pursued the CST (Certified Scrum Trainer). They helped me a lot! Your CV is strengthened by the certifications you have and it is used by HR as a initial preselection process. Ultimately your experience validates your certifications (and not the other way around) so strengthen your CV and experiment always.

  1. Do you think the industry is catching up to better understanding the benefits of Agile and Scrum?

Absolutely. Today there are several surveys stating the benefits organizations obtain from implementing Scrum and the Agile mindset. Nevertheless, the Agile mindset is counter-intuitive to the ultimate goal of the massive majority of corporations today so there is a very, very long road ahead and many projects and surveys to come.

  1. What are some of the major gaps you still see in the project management profession and what can industries do to address them?

I am not sure I can call these gaps but they are: 1. Lack of a holistic approach and 2. Lack of open-mindedness. Let me elaborate on each one.

  1. Project managers should not focus on project management areas only (think of the areas described on the PMBOK). They do need to be specialists in project management and have a deep understanding of all tools and techniques available. At the same time, they must have the minimal ability to work outside their area and understand and talk about financing, engineering, software development, logistics, electronics, etc. That is being versatile and holistic.
  2. A project manager that thinks of herself as the nirvana of her profession is very likely to suffer from a career downturn. I have heard from thought leaders things like “Scrum is not a good enough project management methodology”. Of course not! Scrum wasn’t born to be neither a project management framework nor methodology. This is what I mean by of lack of open-mindedness. A great project manager understands that there is always room for improvement and Scrum and Agile are additional concepts to be added to their bag of tools.
  3. What type of things do you do to stay current in your field (professional development)?

I listen a lot to people, specially those outside my work area and divide my time between consulting and teaching. Being always in the trenches gives me a lot of ideas and allows me to create new things and learn new concepts and techniques. Besides that I attend leadership trainings as much as I can and read about spirituality. Being a great leader is about self-awareness so I strive for it every day. I am aware that I will never quite get there.

  1. What are your last thoughts or closing remarks to our project manager subscribers?

Kaizen, kaizen, kaizen. Help improve others and improve yourself in the process, be your own Kaizen Meister!

Connect with Connect with Heitor Roriz Filho:

– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, SCM, APMC

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