Agile Development

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= describes the shift from anticipatory to adaptive strategies


"When we reduce the cost of experimentation enough, the entire economics of how we do product development changes—it switches from a process based on anticipation (define, design, and build) to one based on adaptation (envision, explore, and adapt). When the cost of generating alternatives plunges and the cost of integrating them into a product is low, then great products aren't built, they evolve—just like biological evolution, only much, much faster than in nature. Biological evolution begins with experimentation (mutation and recombination), exploration (survival of the fittest), and refinement (producing more of the survivors). Increasingly, product development processes are being built using this analogy." (


'In mid-2002, when Alias Systems of Toronto, Canada, started developing Alias Sketchbook Pro, a software package to be announced concurrently with Microsoft's launch of its Tablet PC operating system, the product management and software development team didn't begin with a lengthy product planning effort. The team's marketing and product strategy work evolved over several months, but its product development effort began early, and in parallel, with the strategy process. The team had a vision—an easy-to-use consumer-focused sketching product worthy of a professional graphics artist—and a deadline, the November Microsoft launch date. The product evolved in two-week iterations. For each iteration, a short planning session identified features to be developed. Then, within the "platform" architecture constraints of the operating system and Tablet PC computers, the product evolved—iteration by iteration. In the end, the product was delivered on time, met high quality standards, and has been a success in the marketplace. The product wasn't planned and built, it was envisioned and evolved. Alias didn't start with anticipated architectures, plans, and detailed specifications—it began with a vision followed shortly by the first iteration of the product. The product, the architecture, the plans, and the specifications evolved as the team adapted to the ever-unfolding reality of the market and the technology.

With Alias Sketchbook Pro, the team literally didn't know past the next iteration which features would be included in subsequent development iterations. Team members did have a clear product vision and a business plan. They did have a general idea about what features were needed in the product. They did have active involvement from product marketing. They did have an absolute time deadline and resource expenditure constraints. They did have an overall product platform architecture. Within this vision, business and technical constraints, and overall product release plan, they delivered tested features every two weeks and then adapted their plans to the reality of actual product testing. The team's process was one of evolution and adaptation, not planning and optimization.' (

Book to Read

The above is from a sample chapter of the book:

Jim Highsmith. Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products. Addison-Wesley, 2004