CHAPTER 5Beyond Budgeting and Agile

“Responding to change over following a plan.”

From the Agile Manifesto

My IT career was short, but it provided great learning. As you might recall, I headed up the implementation of the accounting system Horisonten in Statoil back in the late 1980s. It was a system ahead of its time. You could play around and model to make it fit your own business, instead of the other way around: the system forcing a design solution on you. I was still based in Finance, but IT was, of course, an important player even if we could do much of the programming ourselves. How to run the project became a hot topic. IT required for instance a detailed user specification from us. We protested because of the great iterative interaction the system invited us to. We wanted to experiment and learn and not be tied to one solution too early. We had no name for what we wanted to do instead, but I recall we had a word for what we didn't want: a waterfall approach that was sequential with no turning back. We quarreled for almost half a year before we won and could run the project our way. The new system was a success, but I was exhausted and said to myself, “Never again an IT project.” I have kept that promise! It would take more than 20 years before I realized that we were trying to go agile long before Agile came along.

I have lost track of how many conferences I have spoken at since the Borealis case started to attract external interest in the nineties. In the beginning, ...

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