While there have been many studies about the failure of project management, including the 2010 scathing report on NASA by Glenn Butts and the on-going work of Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg, Oxford University, the most recent and many would argue the most credible is the "Future of Project Management‑2019" which was a joint survey between KPMG, the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) and the Institute of Project Management (IPMA) Figure 1 summarizes these findings.
Figure 1: Summarized Results from KPMG, IPMA, AIPM 2019 Research
The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE International) was founded in 1956. The International Project Management Association (IPMA) was founded in 1964, and the Project Management Institute was founded in 1969. So why, with all these globally recognized professional societies, are we not seeing measurable improvements in the "successful" delivery of projects? Surely in 60+ years these organizations have existed, then IF what these organizations advocated worked, then doesn't it seem reasonable that by now we should be seeing far fewer projects running late and over budget? And that is not to mention not delivering what was specified or worse yet, not meeting or fulfilling the objectives the project was undertaken to achieve or deliver?
Given the seemingly never-ending debates about what "Agile" or "agile" is or is not, here is some new thinking on this question that makes a credible case that Agile or "agile" is a methodology that is not only older than project management, dating back over a million years ago to the taming of fire or 6,000 years ago to the invention of the wheel, but is actually a stand-alone alternative Asset Delivery System that is equal to Project and Operations Management, when viewed from the perspective of "creating, acquiring, expanding, upgrading, maintaining and eventually disposing of organizational assets."
Back around 1905‑1906, George Santayana told us "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." So let us go back and do a quick review of history to see if we can learn anything from history to help us understand why projects as well as the products they were undertaken to produce, still "fail" with such alarming regularity.