IBM applied the agile project management method very similar to scrum to develop IBM PC in 1980. All conditions were met.
- Small self organizing team (12 persons)
- Complete freedom of the development between “sprints”. They operated on their own in a converted warehouse in remote Boca Raton, Florida with only quarterly corporate reviews. They got go-ahead to take unconventional steps, for example to select outside suppliers.
All this is rather known. Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka, who first described the scrum project management method, mentioned this fact in their famous article “The New New Product Development Game” (Harvard Business Review).
However, this is not the end of the story. Once the IBM PC became a commercial success, the scrum was abandoned in favour of more usual tight IBM management control. You know the result. Since year 2005 IBM does not produce the PC anymore. They sold their PC business to a China company, which is probably more innovative.
However, this is also not the end of the story. Now IBM hired Scott W. Ambler, the famous proponent of the agile method as Practice Leader Agile Development at IBM Corporation in the IBM Methods group.
It took IBM more than twenty five years to figure out that any innovative product requires the innovation freedom, but it is more important, that they finally did this.
It seems that agile or scrum is now indeed the mainstream software project management methods. I am going to study what is the reason and explore the scrum im more details in the subsequent posts.