Observations from the (track and) field
Jan 9, 2019
Tona Zheng

In 1968 a little-known high jumper, Dick Fosbury, won Olympic gold by breaking with convention.
Traditionally, high jumpers would scissor kick over the bar, and Fosbury encountered much skepticism as he took a new approach - jumping with his back to the bar. While the other competitors focused on optimizing their existing step by step techniques, Dick Fosbury experimented, and by trial and error perfected a successful new approach - the Fosbury Flop. The Flop became the go-to practice, and within a decade, no high jumper using any other techniques has won since.

Similarly, software development has traditionally been done using the Waterfall technique: big, chunky applications developed all together, with updates occurring at long, scheduled intervals. Along comes a new approach - Agile development, where applications are developed in smaller services or pieces. Updates occur far more frequently, replacing just the individual pieces, not an entire solution. Organizations adopting this approach tend to be more competitive by releasing new products and services much sooner, besting traditional methods.

Just like the high jump, software development will never be the same.

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