I've been watching the PBS series on the Wright brothers and their
path to developing a flying machine. I'm struck by how tightly their
actions fit with Scrum and Test Driven Development.
- They studied all the known theories and experiments first, but did
not disregard their own experiences from bicycle building.
- Having some ideas for lift & wing shape they constructed a test
setup that allowed them to measure lift generated by different wing
profiles, without having to construct a whole airplane to test each.
- They systematically worked the problem of flight control by
personally flying the machine, revising the next experiment based on
While others were building an aircraft all in one go, based on an
untested idea, and often getting killed when they'd attempt to fly the
thing, the Wrights used incremental development and carefully checked
out their ideas against reality in tiny steps. And they got to the goal
Many (all??) technology "firsts" have followed this type of path. The
Apollo moon mission comes to mind. It seems that when success REALLY
matters, people can see that agile is the low risk way to get there.
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