Agile Breaks Out of the IT World

PMI Durham Highlands Chapter

Kevin Aguanno is the agile practice lead for Procept Associates Ltd., one of PMI’s first Registered Education Providers, specializing in training and project and programme strategy consulting. Author of over 30 books, audiobooks and DVDs on project management topics, he teaches agile methods at several universities and at conferences around the world. He spends most of his time helping large, complex organizations integrate agile project management methods into their governance frameworks.

For many, the concepts of agile are distinctly related to software development. This is understandable as even the famous Agile Manifesto that brought together a number of lightweight iterative and incremental software development methods under the common banner of “agile” is fully titled the Agile Manifesto for Software Development.

Many agile methods (such as extreme programming, pragmatic programming and adaptive software development) even include software engineering/development practices within their list of techniques. So, the agile movement definitely has strong ties to the software development world.

Yet, there has been a trend over the past 15 years or so of agile approaches taking root outside of software development and systems integration projects. Agile has not only appeared outside of its usual places, it has thrived in many of these new areas.

The Migration Gets Started
The early start to this trend began in the Japanese manufacturing sector. Long before the software designers and developers who developed the Agile Manifesto got together, the Japanese were combining their lean thinking with iterative and incremental delivery (IID) approaches to create processes that one could argue were the early precursors to the later agile methods.

In fact, in a famous 1986 Harvard Business Review article1, two Japanese researchers first coined the use…

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"Weaseling out of things is good. It's what separates us from the other animals....except weasels."

- Homer Simpson

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