How Will Agile Be Remembered?

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

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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