Don’t Let the History Repeat Itself

Erez Morabia
2 min readNov 27, 2023

--

The broadness of the agile domain and the remarkable progress it has achieved over the past two decades are undeniable. According to the 16th State of Agile Report, adoption rates of Agile go above 80% across various organizations. However, beneath this widespread acceptance lies a different reality — organizations continue to struggle with challenges in fully embracing agile methodologies. Only 20% express real satisfaction, with just 16% actively implementing full enterprise-level agility.

It becomes evident that despite the statistical commonness of agile methodologies and frameworks, many organizations remain fixed in outdated habits of product and project management. The persistence of Gantt charts, often carefully detailing sequential steps with exact dates, is still evident in 15%-49% of cases using tools like Excel and MS Project (read more about the pitfalls of Gantt Charts and exact dates here). These practices, rooted in prolonged planning phases and an avoidance of deviation from the original plan, damage the core principles of agility. Monitoring work utilization (how much people work), rather than focusing on the delivery of content, further sustains these counterproductive patterns.

This reliance on outdated practices represents a historical déjà vu — a recurrence of practices that have previously proven non-productive. It is crucial to remember that the agile movement originated from a sense of urgency, a response to the widespread failures in traditional product development methodologies. The principles of agile were not arbitrary; they were found through careful analysis of data, statistical and mathematical models (such as the Cynefin framework and Little’s Law), and a deep examination of the failures associated with waterfall-era projects, as evidenced in The Chaos Report 2015.

The foundational concepts of project management, championed by figures like Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Gantt, were relevant during the Industrial Revolution. However, in the domain of modern software development, these principles may no longer be applicable. Even the Project Management Institute (PMI) acknowledges the limitations of measuring projects using guidelines from 1959 (scope, budget, time), emphasizing the need for adjustments. Recognizing that focusing on the means rather than the ends is insufficient, the PMI recommends integrating outcomes such as ‘customer satisfaction’ beyond the ‘initial scope‘— a shift indicative of the evolving landscape of project management.

In essence, we stand at a critical point in time where the echoes of historical practices hold back the potential of agile. Embracing agility demands a departure from old habits and a willingness to adapt to the demands of the current era. It signals us to remove the chains of outdated practices and, in doing so, break free from the cycle of history repeating itself.

--

--