Agile for non software projects

An example of Agility from Pune Airport


This morning flying back from Pune to Delhi, while waiting for my flight to take off, I managed to have a closer look at how the flights were being handled by the ground staff of my airline and on the hindsight, I realized some beautiful examples of Agility lie not in the software world but the world at an airport

Here is the scene from the airport:

5th January 2013, 07:00 AM: Two aircrafts of the same airline landed at the same time , Flight 208 from Chennai bound for Delhi and flight 324 from Bengaluru bound for Ahmedabad. The limited ground staff available now had to handle both the aircrafts and they had to perform all tasks ranging from de-boarding the passengers to cleaning the aircraft , re-fuelling , boarding the passengers from Pune almost together for both the flights.

5th January 2013,07: 10 AM:

So like a well oiled machine, they started handling both the flights together, passengers were being de-boarded from one, the other was being re-fuelled , while another team got busy with cleaning the aircraft and then these personnel switched their duties between both the flights.

5th January 2013,07:20 AM: And now came the change in requirement: Due to some operational reasons, The aircrafts had to be switched and the plane scheduled for Ahmedabad would now fly to Delhi and vice versa.

5th January 2013,07:35 AM: Again , the switch happened with clock-work precision without too much ceremony and perfect collaboration. The Flight manager at the Airport played the prefect mentor and coordinator for these teams.

And the mantras for the success for this were very simple: "People over processes", "Customer first", "Planning is important than the plan itself"

...Wait a minute...Did i just repeat the Agile manifesto ?????

Would it have been possible to handle this in a classic waterfall mode...may be yes, but one of the flights would have been delayed by at least an hour if the teams had worked in sequence and by the manual on both the flights?

These little examples have been giving stronger belief to my conviction , that Agile is not a process or a method but a philosophy for life which can be applied to just about every aspect of our work...I would present more evidence of this in my next blog on how we applied Agile in Education for an Engineering College in a remote part of India.

Till then Adios ! and happy Agiling :)