Did HeartOfAgile emerge from PDCA?

I don’t know if it was Alistair Cockburn’s inspiration but I’ve noticed a striking similarity between Cockburn’s HeartOfAgile and the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle of TQM.

Cockburn’s HeartOfAgile shows the four elements of the essence of Agile.

Heart of Agile

Heart of Agile
Source: Alistair Cockburn

PDCA (plan–do–check–act) is an iterative four-step management method used to control and continuously improve processes and products.

PDCA

PDCA

I see a mapping from TQM’s PDCA to Cockburn’s Heart Of Agile. Deliver-Do, Reflect-Check and Improve-Act are all direct mappings. These elements of Cockburn’s heart are identical to the corresponding steps in the PDCA process. I must admit I prefer Cockburn’s terminology i.e. Deliver, Reflect, and Improve.

HeartOfAgile with PDCA

HeartOfAgile with PDCA

My mapping falls down a bit with Collaborate-Plan. There isn’t a direct mapping although, at a stretch, I might claim that Agile involves collaborative planning (yeah, I know, weak).

Collaborate-Plan also highlights the major difference between the two model. PDCA is a cyclic process – you plan then you do (deliver) then you check (reflect) and finally you act (improve), although you have the option to start again. The HeartOfAgile is not a process. It is more like a manifesto and as such no sequence is suggested.

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