10 Ways Agile PMOs are Comparable to Hummingbirds


Creating an Agile project management office from scratch and managing in such a way that it prospers in the organizational paradigm is a real challenge, especially in the current market where we see successful businesses failing due to poor management.

There are many different schools of thought that are helpful for you if you want to overcome this challenge with ease, but not all of them are completely successful or even a little bit helpful.

Let’s just say that in an ideal world where most of the Agile project management offices around the world are lean and state-of-the-art and are a contributing factor to the overall success of the organization, we’ll get to see just how similar PMOs are to hummingbirds.

Yes, you heard that right. Hummingbirds!

This might not be a shock to the regular fanboys of David Attenborough, but Hummingbirds are the “natural” definition of lean and agile creatures, just the way you want your Project management office to be.

Don’t trust us yet? Let us prove it in 10 different ways.

10 Ways to Prove The Similarities Between Agile PMOs and Hummingbirds

Here are the 10 different similarities that we are going to talk about in this article.

Let’s discuss all of them in detail.

1. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, is Small in Size

According to Wikipedia,

“They [Hummingbirds] are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) in length. Female hummingbirds tend to be larger, requiring more energy, with longer beaks that allow for more effective reach into crevices of tall flowers for nectar. Thus, females are better at foraging, acquiring flower nectar, and supporting the energy demands of their larger body size.”

When we monitor the organizational paradigm, we get to know that Agile project management offices are small in size too. Some of them might be bigger, but they too imitate a flock of hummingbirds like smaller PMOs.

How? Well, an Agile Enterprise PM office has 30-35 decentralized smaller PM offices and different officers in them but overall the structure of the Enterprise functioning is close to hummingbirds flying together in different formations and ranks.

When we talk about the large worldwide office transformations, we have two examples of people that made their companies into functional PMO, but even then, these individuals created a ton of decentralized lean PMOs and ultimately the structure mirrored the ways of a hummingbird flock.

The best quality of these PMOs was that they were embedded in an already functional and successful business and they were highly professional with a competent staff that was motivated and highly dedicated to their craft and the workplace.

2. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, function with Spectacular Dexterity

According to Wikipedia,

“The hummingbird has several adaptations that allow it to fly with breathtaking agility and precision. They can fly straight, in reverse, upwards, downwards, and even upside down. Of all the known species of birds, the hummingbird is perhaps one of the most iconic because of its unique ability to hover. When they hover, hummingbirds move their wings more like a buzzing insect than a flapping bird. Some experts found that hummingbirds’ wings have aerodynamic properties similar to helicopter blades. They hover in mid-air at rapid wing-flapping rates, which vary from around 12 beats per second in the largest species to more than 80 in some of the smallest. Of those species measured in wind tunnels, the top speed exceeds 15 m/s (54 km/h; 34 mph) and some species can dive at speed ranging over 22 m/s (79 km/h; 49 mph).”

According to the rules of the organizational paradigm, if you want your company to act as an Agile project management office then you have to be ready and capable of functioning in any direction the wind takes you.

Meaning your business needs to be able to withstand any changes that the organizational paradigm might go through with relative ease.

When the PMO is this Agile, it can support and develop complex projects with amazing dexterity that ultimately allows it to navigate the most VUCA environments (Volatile. Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous).

These PMOs are experts in interacting with all of the stakeholders connected to the project, from all directions either up or down, and also with different roles, functions, and geographies.

Let’s take an example into account when a program management office was able to counter severe opposition from the internal consulting group.

While the internal consulting group wanted everyone to follow a more linear (fixed) roadmap, the program management office wanted a more agile strategy that triumphed in the end.

3. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, acquire Vocalizations through Imitation

According to Wikipedia,

“Consisting of chirps, squeaks, whistles, and buzzes, hummingbird songs originate from at least seven specialized nuclei in the forebrain. A genetic expression study has shown that these nuclei enable vocal learning (ability to acquire vocalizations through imitation), a rare trait known to occur in only two other groups of birds (parrots and songbirds) and a few groups of mammals (including humans, whales, dolphins, and bats).”

As we see in the organizational paradigm, Project management offices are always monitoring and tracking their competitors and peers. They’re not alone in doing that like this sort of thing always happens in a healthy professional rivalry.

The reason why they do that is to learn about the needs and requirements of the project stakeholders, and how they can relate to those requirements by first understanding the human dynamics.

These human dynamics are quite complex as they consist of different domains that are related to the human psyche, for example, they consist of the knowledge about the different languages humans use to communicate among themselves.

They also consist of the history of humans, the different cultures they have in their communities around the world, different human behaviors, and cognitive biases.

Project management offices and officers also learn about the capabilities of the professional sectors that they are trying to support and do business with.

When we talk about a large industrial enterprise, there are a lot of different successful project management offices that have extensive previous experience related to marketing and sales, R&D, or industry.

Here are a few different practical examples of traits that many of the successful project management officers in the office have. They are:

  • They are fluent in many different foreign languages so that they can communicate with foreign clients from all over the world
  • They are experts in creating and maintaining professional relations with clients that are valuable to the success and progress of the business
  • They use different interaction techniques to find out about the hidden characteristics of the initiatives, communication, or reports.
  • They are experts in customizing the way they do business according to the cultural norms of the community that they are trying to business with.
  • They are experts in focusing on the results and actions, where and whenever it’s feasible.

4. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, keep Their Head Positions Stable in Turbulences

According to Wikipedia,

“During turbulent airflow conditions created experimentally in a wind tunnel, hummingbirds exhibit stable head positions and orientation when they hover at a feeder. In natural settings full of highly complex background motion, hummingbirds can hover precisely in place by rapid coordination of vision with body position.”

Just like hummingbirds, the project management offices in the organizational world are extremely agile when it comes to facing obstacles and calamities.

These calamities can come from every direction just like when a hummingbird is caught in a storm or a cross-wind.

These calamities in a project management paradigm can be any number of obstacles, risks, and scope creeps that are dangerous to the project development process.

But on top of that, turbulences can also be daily things like a conversation with colleagues that turn into heated arguments, conversations with different colleagues, arguments during scrum meetings, or any other interactions like that with the high-level executives.

All of these calamities and turbulence can prove to be fatal when you are deeply invested in the project development process, but an Agile project management office and the officer remains cool, composed, calm and confident, because they understand the end goal, and they did not let anything derail them from their path.

And these are not just suppositions, we see them happening all the time in the organizational world where the high-level executives challenged the competency and capability of the project manager and the development team just because some of the decisions that they made were going to damage the reputation of these executives.

But instead of retaliating in kind, the project manager and the development team stood firm and proved their capabilities with their work and slowly the opposition disappeared, and the company gained more value in the market because of those radical decisions.

5. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, have a Lifespan of 3 to 5 Years

According to Wikipedia,

“Many hummingbirds die during their first year of life, especially in the vulnerable period between hatching and fledging, those that survive may occasionally live a decade or more. Among the better-known North American species, the average lifespan is probably 3 to 5 years.”

It sounds absurd when we think about Agile project management offices just running for 3 to 5 years max, but this statement is probably true for most of the offices and officers in the market. Let us talk about the PM offices then we will talk about the PM officers.

PMOs, when they are dealing with a single project or program, are not built to last a lifetime, because after that project or program ends, they are not necessary.

But when the Project management offices are dealing with a more permanent organizational strategy, a portfolio of different project programs, or a center of excellence, they are bound to last a long time.

PM officers have a separate opinion regarding time.

First of all, the PM officers in the organizational paradigm are destined to “die” very easily when these two scenarios happen.

  • Firstly, they are not capable of doing the tasks and processes that are assigned to them by their project management or program manager. They are not accustomed to working in the professional environment that they are currently working in.
  • Secondly, the hiring process that helped them get the job is flawed and not well equipped to weed out the perfect candidates for the job, which results in hiring the wrong person for the job and the person losing their job later on.

But the important scenario that causes the PM officers to “die” is that they are not working closely with their project leaders.

There might be many reasons why the officer doesn’t want to work with their leader, but the main reason that they stop caring about the company and the work that they do is that the leader is not capable of doing their job and the officer thinks that the leader is unfit to lead them.

Apart from that, the project management officers are expected to last a few years at the very least. They stick with the company, the work that they do, and finish their designated tasks, processes, and ultimately the project.

6. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, Belong to a Variety of Species

According to Wikipedia,

“Hummingbirds are small and agile birds from the Americas. They constitute the family Trochilidae. Hummingbirds fall into nine main clades, the Topazes, Hermits, Mangoes, Brilliants, Coquettes, Patagonia, Mountain Gems, Bees, and Emeralds. They count between 325 and 340 species.”

Agile project management offices can belong to a wide range of branches included in the project management like a simple project or program, a program management office, or a portfolio management office.

In these branches, you can also include different enterprise-level project management offices or a center of Excellence specializing in project management.

Other branches include:

The project management offices don’t have the same role in all of these branches, because of the different levels of “scope of control” that these branches show and also on the capabilities that they show.

7. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, love Flowering Projects that They Work on

According to Wikipedia,

“Hummingbirds love nectar-bearing flowering plants. They depend on flower nectar to fuel their high metabolisms and hovering flight. Many plants pollinated by hummingbirds produce flowers in shades of red, orange, and bright pink.”

Project management offices like hummingbirds love working on different projects that they can make their mark with. They want to influence the market and their customer base with the project that they work on.

This love of working on complex and different projects originates from not working on dull projects that are time-consuming and don’t have any real outputs that are going to influence the market.

In short, the project management offices don’t have any real challenge on their hands while they work on those dull projects.

They crave these challenges because most of the project management offices that are created in the organizational paradigm are temporary, and they have to complete the project development process that they are working on.

When this is the scenario, they always want to work on projects that they can make an impact with otherwise they are wasting their time. Just like hummingbirds, they want to “pollinate” the projects that work on and move on.

8. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, are very Resistant to Fatigue

According to Wikipedia,

“Hummingbirds have also the ability to simply hover for very long periods. During the flight, oxygen consumption per gram of muscle tissue in a hummingbird is about 10 times higher than that measured in elite human athletes. Hummingbirds are rare among vertebrates in their ability to rapidly make use of ingested sugars to fuel energetically expensive hovering flight.”

We see every day in the organizational paradigm that some of the projects that are being developed are going to be worked upon for many years to come. Their development duration is not defined, and they are supposed to be constantly worked upon so that they can be completed quickly.

Sometimes this time duration even goes above 10 years. What to do then?

Well, this is why Agile project management offices are the best asset while dealing with such projects because they are well-equipped to endure this fatigue of long drawn out project development processes.

Their teams are also equipped to endure long scrum meetings and other interactions that hinder the actual development processes.

The reason why they are so well to endure these things is that they are agile and adaptable in their approach otherwise if they were following a linear trajectory, they would be fatigued when the development process went a little longer.

9. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, have a High Spatial Resolution in Lateral and Frontal Visual Fields

From the same Hummingbird post on Wikipedia, it says:

“During evolution, hummingbirds have adapted to the navigational needs of visual processing while in rapid flight or hovering by the development of an exceptionally dense array of retinal neurons allowing for increased spatial resolution in the lateral and frontal visual fields. The enlargement of the brain region responsible for visual processing indicates enhanced ability for perception and processing of fast-moving visual stimuli, which hummingbirds encounter during rapid forward flight, insect foraging, competitive interactions, and high-speed courtship. Hummingbirds can even see wavelengths into the near-ultraviolet.”

We always see in the organizational paradigm, that whenever the project is a bit more complex, the more VUCA the environment, the more data and information is required by the project management office.

This is quite normal but the issue with that is the amount of information that they can extract about their project. That is why they need to find the relevant information from the huge bellowing of the communication channels that are constantly shouting too much information towards you.

That’s why when it comes to extracting relevant information to help complete the project development process, the best entities to work with are, project management offices, and officers.

10. Agile PMOs, like Hummingbirds, can Enter Hibernation-Like States

“To conserve energy when food is scarce, and at night when not foraging, hummingbirds can go into torpor, a state similar to hibernation, slowing metabolic rate to 1/15th of its normal rate.”

Agile Project management offices are extremely patient. As we have mentioned above that they are experts in enduring fatigue that may crush the spirits of other development offices, they can also go through extreme periods of deserts.

Many times the projects in the PM domain might be missing, moving extremely slowly, or waiting to be discussed further by the stakeholders and the project manager. When this happens, the project management offices shine.

Instead of going on the offensive or retaliating in any way to boost the production process, they go into a state of hibernation just like hummingbirds.

This allows them to save time and other valuable resources from being wasted on these slow-moving projects, and they wait to fight another day.


All of the traits that we discussed above are incredible and if a project management office wants to be successful in this unpredictable market, they need to have these traits otherwise they will perish.

If you think that we missed something, or if we made a mistake, let us know by emailing us.

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