No myth about agile is more rampant or ruinous than the claim that agile companies don’t have to plan. We meet too many executives who fear adopting agile because of this delusion. We also meet too many agile beginners who try to disguise their failings in planning by arguing that they shouldn’t have to plan.

We understand the source of confusion. The agile manifesto states that agile practitioners have come to value “responding to change over following a plan.”1 But that doesn’t mean no planning. It means developing adaptive plans. Conventional bureaucratic organizations create detailed plans—wasting time and resources in pursuit of precision—and assume that executives will implement them to the ...

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