Some weeks ago, I blogged about Monumental Agile Adoption. That is, large scale adoptions involving several 1000s of people. Even though they don’t represent the majority of agile adoptions, we are still excited and inspired to hear about them.

The adoptions I mentioned then were large scale rollouts of agile software development methods. I’ve also been on the watch for “monumental” efforts where the agile principles and practices with which we are so familiar can be applied in other domains or novel ways. Here’s an interesting example from the airline industry.
How does one manage the complex merger of airline systems when one major airline is acquired by another? When Delta acquired Northwest, Delta’s CIO chose a version of the beloved agile tracking wall with the humble but ever increasingly popular Post It note. From the New York Times:


Delta’s chief information officer, Theresa Wise, said the airline had to merge 1,199 computer systems down to about 600, including one — a component within the airline’s reservation system — dating from 1966.

The challenge, she said, was to switch the systems progressively so that passengers would not notice. 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.


Now that looks like the mother of all tracking boards, doesn’t it? One would think that a successful approach like this would be imitated quickly. Well, it’s too bad the folks at United Airlines didn’t take note. United’s systems have failed as they attempt to merge with Continental Airlines.
Do you have examples of applying agile techniques at a monumental scale? Do share.