Project Management

How Will Agile Be Remembered?

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guideā€”Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites about leading teams and, which teaches project management for visual learners.

In the future, how will agile methods be remembered by the project management community? It seems history has a way of distorting the facts and simplifying concepts out of context. Here are a few examples:

1. In the original “Waterfall Software Development Process” paper written by Winston Royce in 1970, after presenting the lifecycle diagram on Page 2, the author states “I believe in this concept, but the implementation described above is risky and invites failure.” Royce thenspends the remaining nine pages outlining feedback loops and “Do It Twice” recommendations since there would be things missed in the first read. Read in its entirety, it outlines a fairly robust, risk-tolerant approach to building systems that feature multiple iterations and opportunities for learning and adaptation.

Yet waterfall is thought by many to be a single-pass lifecycle with all the associated problems. It is as if the project management community latched onto the lifecycle diagram depicted on Page 2 and chose to ignore all the more difficult-to-implement yet critical steps described in Pages 2-11.

2. Henry Gantt’s project management research and work actually focussed on retrospectives, diagnostics and optimizing workflow. Yet people remember him for the Gantt chart. The funny thing is that he did not even invent what we call the Gantt …

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