Agility through discipline
For example, consider software project planning and estimating . On a traditional project, I often saw a detailed project plan that listed specific tasks, dates, assigned resources, and so on. The strange part is that this plan was rarely modified to reflect the learning we did later on in the project. Instead, the entire project often became a continous scolding opportunity for the project manager. "We need to get back on schedule. Where are we on Task XYZ that was slated to be completed by Friday?" and so on.
By constrast, the Agile projects I've been involved with did some planning up front, but at the level of business value, not of development tasks. We worked with project stakeholders to determine what items to do first, and were able to put a schedule in place based on consistent, reliable delivery of working software. When new requirements emerged, or we faced unforeseen technical challenges, we were able to update the plan based on that information. This kept everyone able to adapt and communicate about where we REALLY were.
It takes more discipline to face reality consistently than to avoid having difficult conversations, and following a rigid, hopelessly inaccurate plan. Fear is more commonly associated with traditional project management than courage.
I propose a new definition for Agile: creating freedom through courage and discipline. What's your definition?
For more on agile tools and techniques: http://www.extremeplanner.com
(Tags: agile, software, project management)