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Rational Agility

Is it possible to be agile in a complex, real-time, embedded environment? How does it fit in with the heavily regulated, ISO 15504/CMMI, product safety-orientated processes increasingly demanded by the OEMs?

In my presentation at the Embedded World conference in February 2012, I argued that the difference between ‘agile’ and ‘rational, controlled’ project organisation is in fact an age-old misunderstanding in terms.

Firstly, being ‘agile’ is not necessarily a contradiction of being ‘process orientated’. The marketing-driven argument is obsolete. The decision making processes are very rarely purely rational. In fact, modern brain science shows that we always decide empirically.

Secondly, the fixation on the project as an isolated entity appears to be highly disputable. It is proven to be disastrous in many organisations because the nature of the product development process changes during subsequent product releases. For that reason, projects must adapt at each stage in the product life cycle. Being organic systems rather than machines, project organisations require the right ‘genes’; they need the appropriate ‘DNA’ to develop the best abilities necessary to meet the requirements needed to move from the agile, pre-release stage to rational, quality-orientated product development.

The bottom line is that integrating both dimensions – the project as an organic system and the project’s lifecycle-centric DNA – makes the discussion ‘should we be agile or heavyweight in our process-orientation’ more or less obsolete. Using the right DNA-like project management pattern enables systems developing organisations to successfully deliver product releases while preserving their team’s motivation and satisfying their customers.

The following presentation is the first article in this series. I will include relevant slides in subsequent postings. I hope you will like them and maybe share you thoughts on the idea.

Enjoy!

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About the Author

Roman MildnerRoman Mildner, Certified Project Manager (PMP) and member of the United Mentors Network (UMN), has worked in the IT industry since 1992 and an independent consultant and project manager since 1998. His professional offering includes IT strategy consulting, project management and process improvement. For more details, please visit his UMN page.

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