This Guest paper is copyright to Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo.
Published here March 2021.

PART 1 | Exploring the Asset Delivery Options
"Trial and Error", "Scientific Method", or "Agile"
Project Management as an Asset Delivery Option
Operations Management as an Asset Delivery Option | Bringing It All Together ...
Estimating, or Rather Underestimating | Conclusion

"Trial and Error", "Scientific Method", or "Agile"

During the 12th century, this "trial and error" method became formally known as the "Scientific Method." While this method dates back to Plato and Aristotle, it is generally agreed that the foundation was formed during the Renaissance Period of the 12th century, with credit for actually defining the "Scientific Method" going to Francis Bacon (1561-1626). "Bacon was a successful lawyer and influential philosopher who did much to reform scientific thinking. In his "Instauration Magna," Bacon proposed a new approach to scientific inquiry, which he published in 1621 as the "Novum Organum Scientia rum." This new approach advocated inductive reasoning as the foundation of scientific thinking. Bacon also argued that only a clear system of scientific inquiry would assure man's mastery over the world."[13]

Figure 9: Scientific Method Illustrated
Figure 9: Scientific Method Illustrated[14]

The "Scientific Method" is not technically a project management methodology or process but a new product development approach. This structured and disciplined "trial and error" method is a valid method. It has produced such new products as the telephone (Bell), the light bulb (Edison) and penicillin (Fleming) to name but a few of the many hundreds of thousands of new products created using this iterative approach.

Inexplicably, this very same "trial and error" or "Scientific Method" that has played such a key role in the evolution of humankind, today has been reinvented largely by the IT crowd to become what is known as "agile" or "Agile." To "test" the validity of this hypothesis, all one has to do is review the "Agile Manifesto"[15] and one can see a large number of the 12 Principles are consistent with the process shown in Figure 9. You will find exactly the same processes but given a new name, each of the ovals shown being equivalent to a "Scrum" or "Sprint".

To put the relative absurdity of this "new name for an old process" into context, supposing we were to name these certifications more appropriately. For organizations such as PMI, APM and others creating certifications for the "Agile" process, how about calling the certificate: "Certified Trial and Error Professional" or "Certified Scientific Method Professional."

It would appear that we are certifying people in knowing and understanding a process that we learned (or should have learned!!) in Middle or High School science classes. Does this really make common sense?

Figure 10:
Figure 10: "Scientific Method" (a.k.a. "Agile") Mapped to the Asset Life Span[16] [click to enlarge]

From the perspective of the Asset Life Span, as shown in Figure 10 the only difference is that the processes, that occur during each of the major Phases of the asset life span, become more iterative. In other words, the major "go/no go" decisions are still made by the Asset (CAPEX) and Operations (OPEX) funded project sponsors, but that between those decision points there is more experimentation and options for change. In the terminology of scrum, we could argue that each go/no go decision is a single scrum or a series of scrums. Ultimately someone with the appropriate authority must give the Go Ahead to move on (or kill or modify the project scope, time, cost or quality).

Exploring the Asset Delivery Options  Exploring the Asset Delivery Options

13. William Harris "How the Scientific Method Works" 14 January 2008. 24 January 2019
14. Ms. Raeon's Biology Website (n.d.)
15. Agile Manifesto (n.d.)
16. Giammalvo, Paul D. (Feb 2019) Posting on a Linked In Discussion last accessed 02/10/2019.
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