Is Agile New?

Agile is usually advertised as the new thing. The use of the term Agile to refer to Adaptive
lifecycles is certainly new, but what about the lifecycle itself?
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time imagining a long history of human beings
with many projects and programs that have been done without any form of adaptive
lifecycles. Can you think of an example?
I can give you one. Think of a very popular initiative (project or program) in the old days:
going to war. Can you manage a war with a Predictive approach? They plan and design
everything in the beginning? Certainly not. You may have a high-level plan that is more like a
strategy than a plan, and manage the war one battle (i.e. iteration) at a time (or a few in
parallel), and based on the outcome of each battle, adapt for the rest of the initiative.
Not a pleasant example, but a clear one that shows Adaptive lifecycles can’t be new.
So, what is it that is new?
In a certain time, the so-called scientific management approach and Taylorism became the
norm, so much so that every other approach was perceived inferior and even wrong.
Taylorism was entirely and strongly based on Predictive systems; therefore, Predictive
systems dominated the whole world, so to speak.
Then we reached the time that more and more IT development projects were initiated, and
Predictive lifecycles were not really the best way to manage those projects. People tried to
tolerate it, while the pressure was increasing, until demonstrations and eventually
revolution happened! Like any other revolution, it devours its children, but that’s a topic for
another time.

Is Agile Faster?

The word “agile” implies that these methods are faster. While it is very difficult to confirm
or reject this hypothesis, there are two main reasons that help with the “speed” of Agile
􀁸 Changes: applying changes in the middle of a Predictive project takes more time and
effort than in an Agile project.
􀁸 Scope: Predictive projects are dependent on an upfront definition of scope, and
when it’s time to define the scope, people who are responsible become too creative
and add features that are never, or rarely, used. Based on some studies, more than
half of the features in an average piece of software are like that. The emergence of scope in Agile projects helps reduce this problem to a certain degree, which in turn,
can create a simpler and shorter project.