Extreme Agile Wallboards – Delta and Northwest Style

“Delta and Northwest announced their merger in April 2008. They immediately began planning for what turned out to be an 18-month sprint to integrate 1,200 systems across the two airlines — everything from customer loyalty programs to aircraft operations, all without interrupting service. Managers built this master guide to break down when these systems would need to start working together. Each note represents a project that could involve thousands of tasks.”

Two things to note here regarding this wallboard:

  • 18-Month Sprint – Really? Is that Agile? – I know that Delta/Northwest and the people working on this project wanted this project to be “Agile.” I’m seeing now… that it may be a different flavor of Agile…
  • Managers built this – Need I say more?

“Ms. Wise, who has a doctorate in applied mathematics, devised a low-tech solution: she set up a timeline of the steps that had to be performed by pinning colored Post-it notes on the wall of a conference room.”

So… maybe it wasn’t an Agilist who built it. Would love to have anyone who knows how this is going comment. What a giant undertaking!!!

[VIA: NYTimes]

9 Responses to “Extreme Agile Wallboards – Delta and Northwest Style”

  1. Scott Duncan
    May 20, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Didn’t see anything in the actual NYT article that suggested anyone spoke about being agile in any way or used the term “sprint.” Given this, what is the concern for an 18-month project length and the fact that managers were doing the planning (given the size and minutiae involved)?

    • peter
      May 20, 2011 at 10:36 am #

      Actually… I’m speaking from ‘personal’ knowledge here. This project was potentially a client of mine… I know they are doing agile :)

      • Scott Duncan
        May 22, 2011 at 11:05 am #

        What does “doing Agile” mean in the context of merging two airlines? Not asking for anything proprietary, but what might convince someone they should consider using an Agile approach for this broad and “scattered” an effort (esp. based on the things in the NYT article)? I can see certain iterative and close communication ideas being useful (as well as some others), but as this is not a software effort, what actual “practices” might have been envisoned as useful and Agile? (We just had a Scrum Gathering Open Space discussion about Agile for Non-Software in Seattle, so this interests me.)

        • peter
          May 22, 2011 at 11:33 am #

          Decisions on this were made at the executive level above any contractor’s view. I guess it just seemed… nice to do? :)

  2. Geoff Corey
    May 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I’m setting up a fan on this hallway and see what happens!

    • peter
      May 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      Yeh, I know right?

  3. Tom Murton
    May 25, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    New here, just found the site while looking for Agile conferences in Amsterdam.

    You could do an Agile “sprint” over 18 months, ok sprint would be the wrong word to use but if someone was using a more kanban approach or even “scrumban” people might see this as an 18 month sprint?

    Although I would like to know what their WIP limits are going by that board 😉

    • peter
      May 25, 2011 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks for dropping by! Hope you frequent us!


  1. Retrospective 33 – #Scrum Meetings and The #Agile Cartel | Agile Scout - May 21, 2011

    […] Delta and Northwest Airlines have merged. See their Sprint Wallboard. […]

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