Agile fanatics (excuse me: practitioners) love to do things incrementally.That's OK for their little worlds in which there's no heavy lifting to do, but it's fantasyland for many projects.
Take, an example, the design of a new car. Sure, you can break the car into systems -- chassis, body, safety package, motor, and so on. Waterfall does that, too, but let's consider the airflow over the body. The airflow is affected by the whole assembly. Every part affects the whole. You can't just design a fender in isolation and say, "Looky, looky, I've delivered value!" No, you've delivered an irrelevant piece of scrap.
In any course on Business Analysis, the importance of a unit on Systems Thinking cannot be overemphasized because the Agile world has completely forgotten its value.
Before the 1990's, there was a role called Systems Engineer.That title is still around, but the job is not. At least, the job has become a rare grain of wheat a vast field of tares.
A Systems Engineer had many skills of a project manager, a BA, a Systems Thinker, and a cross-disciplinary engineer, all rolled into one.
Along come companies such as Microsoft and Cisco, dropping the qualifying word from titles such as Network Systems Engineer, Software Systems Engineer, and Server Systems Engineer. Suddenly, every engineer, analyst, and administrator is a Systems Engineer.
True Systems Engineering jobs have become needles in a field of haystacks, and systems thinking has almost been forgotten.
Thousands of Systems Engineers lost their jobs due to decimation of the US Defense sector in 2009. They still find three strikes against them:
- Transitioning to a different job category such as Project Management or Business Analysis
- Getting a foot in the door of a different industry (other than fast food)
- Living in a job market where all the growth is in part-time service jobs such as flipping burgers.
Have you ever thought of a project as a system of people, or a product as a system of technologies? Systems Engineers do that instinctively, and such integrated systems thinking could prevent a lot of headaches for maturing companies.
Now, if you'll pardon me; I need to clean up a spill in aisle five.