Busting the myth of Agile for most projects, most of the time – 4

Recently we did write more than one article on Agile and how it does not work on capital projects.

Remember, we are talking about Agile, as in the Agile Manifesto and Agile Principles; not about agile as in agility, flexibility, adaptability.

Some of the articles we wrote, were general discussions but the last two articles addressed two specific principles from the Agile Manifesto. Those were principles 1 and 2. Today, we will address a few more.

Principle 3

“Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale”

Once again the focus here is on software. Maybe we are lacking imagination and innovation since we cannot see how this can be applied to facilities projects, like a power station, a waste water plant, or even a 10 story building.

Principle 4

“Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project”

The concept here is workable and it is a practice we have been using for years on capital projects. For example, in building a chemical plant, the owner team will likely be sitting in trailers next to the contractor teams. So this “traditional” project management practice in a mature organization is adopted by Agile.

Principle N

“The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams”

Well – I do not know what to say here. I would love to see how 2000 or 5000 workers on site can be self-organized. OK, even 100 or 50.


Once again we have to remind the leader that I am not an expert in software and cannot judge how well Agile or any of its related methodologies works in that environment. From what we read online, we are observing more and more articles questioning the practice of Agile. Maybe the issues are not related to the principles of Agile but the way it is understood (or maybe misunderstood) and practiced.

What we know is that most of the Agile Principles cannot work as the Method or methodological approach for managing large and complex projects. They are not even useful in the small to medium projects categories in the capital projects industry.