Fluid Planning and Execution Creates Agility

Thought leaders in the US military are challenging traditional approaches to command and control. These military innovators are proposing a more fluid approach that allows simultaneous planning and execution. It is good to see they are catching up but as an Agile practitioner I already do fluid planning and execution.

Definitions

Planning: what lets us answer the questions “How will you do it?” and “When will you be done?”.

Execution: where you do the work defined in the plan. Build the project deliverables and hand them over to your customer, i.e. where you build and deliver the software.

Fluid Command and Control

Alberts and Hayes (2006) challenge traditional approaches to command and control. Specifically how it separates planning and execution. They argue for a more fluid approach that allows people to constantly make sense of the situation and take action accordingly. Simultaneous planning and execution.

Fluid planning activity may or may not produce an explicit plan. Because planning is part of sense making, the most important part is going through the process of planning. There may not be an explicit plan and that is alright. You’re okay as long as the ‘plan’ is in the heads of the participants of the operation and constantly adjusts to the realities on the ground.

Fluid Planning and Execution in Software Development

Simultaneous Planning and Execution is exactly what you get in Lean-Agile Software Development. It is Agile Monitoring and Control that glues them together.

Frequent releases, colocation, daily team meeting and Sprint review meetings are all ways to get feedback. Based on that feedback the team makes new plans and then immediately starts executing them.

You see this happening everyday. We stand up together to plan the day. The resulting plan is very informal – and not written down – but that is all we need. Who needs to talk to who. Who is working on what. Who can pile into help, where. All things agreed by the team. Then we do it, learn something, and start again.

References

Alberts, D. S., and Hayes, R. E. (2006). Understanding Command and Control. Command and Control Research Program (CCRP) Series.

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