Waterfall is more traditional, Agile is younger – we already present you the two best known methodologies in a previous blog post. But do you really have to decide yourself for one of the two solutions? Or is the best version rather a hybrid one? Andrea Redaelli shares his thoughts about the two different approaches and tells you more about the potentially best deal for today’s Project Management: The Hybrid Waterfall-Agile-Model!
Andrea Redaelli is Principal Corporate Project and Portfolio Management at HUGO BOSS.
He has more than 20 years of expertise in Business Reengineering, Supply Chain and Digital Transformation. He is member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and Italian Association of Engineers. He is a required speaker on emerging technologies like Blockchain, Digital Customer Experience, Fintech, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation. Thanks to all this br, Andrea Redaelli is a fast-thinker to advice on strategic decisions, organizations transformation and business development.
Waterfall vs. Agile – the characteristics
Andrea, in our seminar „International Project Management“ you talk about the different project management methods – Waterfall as a traditional and Agile as a younger and modern version. Could you shortly compare the two approaches?
Two different philosophical approaches, at first. Waterfall is something coming from the tradition, when the human need was primarily the security and the defense of the territory: In facts, we could summarize this approach in a word “plan”. The art of planning is the inner approach of looking for security: How to be prepared for the unknown? People are typically scared when they must face a new situation, new people, new environments, you know why? It’s easy, we don’t know what we can expect, we are not prepared, we don’t know how to behave in the right way. As mother of the solutions for these cases, the human has started to plan an ideal solution, has started to plan all the steps to reach that successful end. This approach creates confidence, security, control and doesn’t leave open for any surprise! Let’s call this project manager the “Farmer”.
The Agile approach is relatively younger. It moves in the reaction area. Its basis is founded on the certainty of the uncertain! It’s clear that in an unknown situation it’s too much effort to plan in advance, this requires a continuous change of plans, frustration and continuous communication and tensions. Therefore, small steps, one after the other, are the key of success. A small step in a direction is a trial, if successful it’s ok, otherwise let’s explore a new route for a solution. Adaption, flexibility and fast learning are the key of the success. Small step means a lower risk and lower gain, but when it’s done fast and in a repetitive way, it creates the incremental success of the project! Let’s call this project manager the “Hunter”.
The effectiveness (and fun) is when you combine both of them: Yes, it’s possible!
Hybrid Waterfall-Agile-Model – the advantages
You see the solution for successful international project management in the Hybrid Waterfall-Agile-Model. What is it all about? Can you explain the advantages?
My assumption is that the project and its environment have a quite important level of unknown, uncertainty and innovative aspects. This is the typical situation when you move in international environments: The culture is different, the language somehow is a constraint, the complexity increases, the project scope is usually not so clearly pre-defined with all the needed details and the changes are very frequent. In this situation, the mix of the two approaches can help to reach the project goals in a safer environment.
A long view to plan the project and the shorter view to execute it!
What would you say are still the risks by even using this model?
In my experience, the risks can only be mitigated. They are foreseen with a good grade of estimation, the interesting is that you can continue to plan with them and be ready to react immediately to reduce their impact, when you apply this hybrid model. The risk is mainly something that happens as unknown, if you try to plan it, it’s a big effort to maintain and control. Leaving it “uncontrolled” but being ready to mitigate is the new approach that Agile offers. Of course, this doesn’t apply in all the cases where the safety of the people and things are primary targets, for instance.
Experiences from Everyday business – the suggestions
How do you proceed with the Waterfall-Agile-Model at HUGO Boss? Could you possibly tell us your experiences from everyday business?
I prefer to talk about my thoughts and experiences in general. My Project Management approach is like to navigate on a sailing boat: You know where you want to sail, which place to reach. You add the point on your map (even digitally!) and you track the route to the destination. Then you start to prepare your stuff: You add some food, spare parts, good friends on your boat and finally you leave the harbor. This is all fine and easy. Then you start the navigation: You can find good weather or bad, storm or sun, high waves or a flat water, other ships on your route, a lot of situations that can be dealt only at that moment, when they happen. A good team, well trained and excellent in collaborating, good food, an efficient boat, proper equipment and tools are the key of success even when something “unknown” happens!