Waterfall as Smokescreen and the Surprisingly Long History of XP

I was reading the Thoughtworks blogs and found a neat reference to Craig Larman’s keynote speech at Agile India 2006. Larman discussed the oft-repeated comment that agile is not suited to things like large defence projects, but when Larman checked out Sapolsky’s 1972 book on the history of the Polaris system, found that Sapolsky had said that “critical path analysis and PERT charts were used as a smokescreen to placate senior management while engineers got on with their iterative development process”. (Quoting the blog entry, not the original book.)

I haven’t tracked down Larman’s 2006 paper (since the conference was today and yesterday it may not be up yet), but here’s a link to a paper he co-wrote in 2003 which chronicles iterative development going back into the 1930s and something very like XP popping up in 1957.

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