October 17, 2011

What Are Projects?

  —Some insight from the construction industry on Agile project management.

I am re-reading Mike Cohn's book "Agile Estimating and Planning". In chapter three, "An Agile Approach", Mike references an article by Hal Macomber entitled Achieving Change in Construction". Hal's article pulls the main points from a study conducted on the construction industry with the same title.

Hal's article made me aware of a misconception of mine about project management in the construction industry. My view up to this point was very limited--I was under the impression that project management in construction was well understood and effective. Hal's article pointed out that even a well established industry can have its issues.

This article proved useful to me because it summarized in a couple of sentences what I believe is a key motivation behind adopting Agile methods:
... suggest there are two complementary approaches for achieving change. The first has to do with producing economic value. They argue that people will adopt an approach that produces higher value. They couple this with a high involvement high learning organizational approach. High involvement will bring about the change.
People will use an approach that produces higher value. If you add this to an approach the embodies high involvement and learning then the approach should be self perpetuating and result in real positive change.  For me, these two sentences really make explicit the motivation for Agile methods.

(The links in Hal's article to the original paper are dead. Use http://berkeley.academia.edu/GlennBallard/Papers/838052/Achieving_change_in_construction instead.)


The link to Achieving Change in Construction is offline. The URL above is a capture by the Internet Archive from when this article was published.
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