Project Management

Yin Yang Agile

Jann Thomas, PMP

The four guiding principles of Agile project management can be compared to the Chinese concept of yin-yang. They are "opposing ... mutually rooted ... mutually transforming ... and mutually waxing and waning." By better understanding how these principles work in harmony, project managers can then translate them from concepts into concrete actions.

The Chinese philosophy of yin and yang is based on four laws. 1) yin-yang are opposing — they describe the polar effects of phenomena; for instance, winter and summer would be the yin and yang for the year. 2) yin–yang are mutually rooted — they are complementary qualities that make up the whole phenomena, just as daylight and night together make up a single day. 3) yin–yang mutually transform — a change in one quality causes change in the other; for example, snow melting in the spring causes a rise in the river. 4) yin-yang mutually wax and wane — there is a dynamic equilibrium between Yin and Yang; just as the daylight shortens in the winter the night grows longer.


Project managers charged with moving a team to Agile practices may feel the opposing nature of Agile and existing project management methods, particularly if Agile arrives as an edict from a new CIO or a grassroots movement from within the software group.


A move to Agile means that the roles within …

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