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Industrial Engineering and Agile

12 July 2016

Alhad Akole
Zensar Technologies Ltd

I graduated in industrial engineering (IE) way back in 1999, and our batch was well known as IE-99. Wikipedia defines IE this way: "Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering which deals with the optimization of complex processes or systems. Industrial engineers work to eliminate waste of time, money, materials, man-hours, machine time, energy and other resources that do not generate value. According to the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, they figure out how to do things better; they engineer processes and systems that improve quality and productivity."
We studied time and motion, materials management, logistics, and more. Looking at the underlying topics, methods, and principles that we learned, I see now that they were very much part of today's Agile way of working. Consider:
  • Removal of waste from the system
  • Value optimization
  • Process improvement
  • Root cause analysis (The 5 Whys, Pareto Analysis, Fishbone Diagrams, etc.)
  • Defining the critical path and risk management around that
  • Motivational theories, including empowerment, providing the right working conditions, capacity planning, etc.
  • Finding the best way to encourage the knowledge worker
Each time I look at different frameworks and the principles of Agile, I realize how much of what I learned back then was a precursor to what I use and value now. I feel proud that I learned those ideas way back in my undergraduate days, that I still actually use them in my day-to-day life, and that the current widespread interest in Agile explicitly upholds these same values in more and more disciplines.


Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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