Thus far, some A&D companies have successfully implemented agile, but they are in the minority. Others have struggled to implement the approach—or resisted deploying it widely. Limiting its adoption are cultural resistance and fears that it could disrupt well-established development and engineering processes needed to maintain safety and quality standards.
Particularly in process-intensive industries such as A&D, agile has been reduced to merely conducting sprints, and minimum viable products (MVPs) can be seen as out of sync with complex development requirements. Cherry-picking certain concepts significantly undermines the power of agile methods, and should be avoided. Agile does not mean “doing the same as usual, more quickly.”
At a high level, agile is a simple, powerful concept made up of four tenets: customer focus, an orientation toward outputs, adaptability, and empowered teams. Yet it is not a one-size-fits-all method that guarantees results. The real value is attained only through a comprehensive approach that boosts collaboration and unconventional thinking.
To be clear, manufacturers have a decades-long track record of established engineering and design processes, and we do not suggest that they scrap those. Rather, we at BCG believe that agile can be adapted to improve existing processes and cultures—in line with the unique needs of each organization and project. Based on our experience with real-world applications across A&D companies, the benefits can be transformative.