CHAPTER 4A Better Way to WorkThe Benefits and Core Values of Agile Development

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.

—Mark Twain

The dirty little secret in the software industry is that information technology (IT) projects fail more often than not. Sure, not every failure qualifies as a public spectacle like the debacle, but the track record of Waterfall projects has never been anywhere close to good.


In 2014, I spoke at Netflix headquarters about my then-current book, The Visual Organization. From the moment I entered the building, I detected a decidedly different vibe compared to that at most organizations on my book tour.

Perhaps it began with the boldly displayed Tech Emmy in the company’s lobby.* It continued with the data visualizations on the wall and the employees’ profound knowledge of data, analytics, and technology. (I was nowhere near the smartest person in the room.) To be sure, it was an unforgettable experience.

Since that time, I have reflected quite a bit on the two hours I spent at the streaming-video giant. Netflix made quite an impression on me. No wonder that it’s one of the most successful companies of the Internet Age. Sure, it built a better mousetrap and benefited from how Blockbuster management grossly misjudged consumer trends. What’s more, Netflix has made its fair share of blunders.

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