Agile History

When you think of scrum, don’t you think of a bunch of (preferably handsome) dirty man pushing and puffing against each other on a rugby field? Well this is exactly where it comes from. No joke!

Scrum (agile) was invented by two guys named Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber in the early 90’s. Both software developers and smart, hands on guys. By the way, interesting fact, they also share something non-IT related. Both were in the US military, Ken as a marine, Jeff as a flight officer.

Back to scrum. The whole theory is inspired by an article called ‘The New New Product Development Game,’ which was published in 1986 by Nonake en Takeuchi. It compares a new way of handling software development with a rugby team working together towards one goal: getting the ball to cross the line. Not like a relay race, where every single runner is doing his isolated part in reaching the goal and where the only contact between the different runners is when they hand over the stick to the next runner. In this comparison, the waterfall way of handling change is the relay race. We highly recommend this ground breaking article! It was the starting point for Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for their joint endeavour, an agile management framework. In 1995 their new theory was presented at OOPSLA ‘95, which is a huge IT conference, and it has changed the game.

The theory is based on the fact that outstanding performance in the development of new, complex products is achieved when teams are fed with objectives, not with tasks. The best teams are those that are given direction within which they have room to devise their own tactics on how to best Sthead towards their joint objective. Teams require autonomy to achieve excellence. Very long lasting research from very clever people has proven that the waterfall and predictive process is not a good fit for software development. For complex work in a world in which more is unkown than known, predictions have little value given a high rate of change and uncertainty. Therefore the empirical approach of Scrum was proven to be the preferred process.

The manifesto for agile software development was created in February 2001 and since then there has been a constant stream of companies adopting scrum as the best fit for our fast changing world. It has gone beyond software to invade the worlds of manufacturing, marketing, operations, education and even holiday planning, shopping or baby making.

Wanna read our post on the Agile Manifesto? Go wild!


Still want to read more? We recommend these great reads:

Agile Manifesto: the original Agile Manifesto

A collection of articles such as “The New New Product Development Game”: Enterprise Scrum

And of course the company of Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland:


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.