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The Great Agile Debate

29 Apr 2019
The Great Agile Debate

'Agile' or 'Trial and Error' or the 'Scientific Method' as an Asset Delivery Option

Given the seemingly never-ending debates about what 'Agile' is or is not, here is some new and controversial thinking on this question. This article is a short extract from the published paper 'Agile' is not a subset of project management but a stand-alone alternate methodology that is equal to project management” by Giammalvo, P.D. (2019). PM World Vol. VIII, Issue III (April).

There is clear evidence that the processes of project management have been used by humankind for at least 5,000 years, validated by the Great Pyramids of Giza and many other wonders of the ancient world.

The 'trial and error method, which came to be known around the 12th century as the 'Scientific Method' and is now being called 'Agile', dates back even further, 1 million years ago, to the taming of fire invention of the wheel.

During the 12th Century, this 'trial and error' method became formally known as the 'Scientific Method' While this method dates back to Plato and Aristotle, it is generally agreed that the foundation was formed during the Renaissance Period of the 12th Century, with credit for actually defining the 'Scientific Method' going to Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

His new approach advocated inductive reasoning as the foundation of scientific thinking. Bacon also argued that only a clear system of scientific inquiry would assure man's mastery over the world.

Scientific Method as an Ongoing Process

The 'Scientific Method' is not technically a project management methodology or process but a new product development approach. This trial and error method is a valid method that has produced such new products as the telephone (Bell), the light bulb (Edison) and penicillin (Fleming), to name but a few of the many hundreds of thousands of new products created using this iterative process.

Inexplicably, this same 'trial and error' or 'Scientific Method' that has played such a key role in the evolution of humankind today has been reinvented largely by the IT crowd to become what is known as 'agile' or 'Agile'.

To 'test' the validity of this hypothesis, all one has to do is review the 'Agile Manifesto', and one can see several the 12 Principles are consistent with the process.

The same process but given a new name, with each of the ovals shown being equivalent to a 'Scrum' or 'Sprint.' To put the relative absurdity of this 'new name for an old process' into context, with organizations such as PMI, APM and others creating certifications for the 'Agile' process, supposing we were to name these certifications more appropriately 'Certified Trial and Error Professional' or 'Certified Scientific Method Professional'.  

Profile: Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS

Dr Giammalvo hel

Dr Giammalvo held an undergraduate degree in Construction Management, an MSc in Project Management through the George Washington University and was awarded his PhD in Project and Program Management through the Institute Superieur De Gestion Industrielle (ISGI) and Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Lille (ESC-Lille).

He has spent 35 of the last 50 years working on large, highly technical international projects. His current client list includes Fortune 500 major telecommunications, oil, gas and mining companies plus the UN Projects Office and many other multi-national companies, NGOs, and Indonesian Government Agencies.