11 Understanding Agile at a Deeper Level

AN AGILE PROJECT MANAGER needs to understand agile at a deeper level in order to apply it to different situations effectively. The key to that is to develop a systems thinking approach to understand agile principles and practices at a deeper level. In order to develop that kind of systems thinking approach, it is valuable to understand the roots of agile and how agile thinking evolved. The roots of agile go fairly deep, but there are two major sources that had the most impact on its development:

  • Total quality management (TQM) was probably the strongest factor in influencing the agile approach to quality.
  • Lean manufacturing was probably the biggest factor in influencing agile process thinking.

Each of those influences will be discussed in this chapter.


BusinessDictionary.com defines systems thinking as follows:

Practice of thinking that takes a holistic view of complex events or phenomenon, seemingly caused by myriad of isolated, independent, and usually unpredictable factors or forces. Systems Thinking views all events and phenomenon as ‘wholes’ interacting according to systems principles in a few basic patterns called systems archetypes. These patterns underlie vastly different events and phenomenon such as diminishing returns from efforts, spread of contagious diseases, and fulfillment in personal relationships. Systems Thinking stands in contrast to the analytic or mechanistic thinking that all phenomenon can be understood ...

Get The Project Manager's Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.