Were Pyramids the first Iterative Development?

Agile has been around since the mid 1990s but the principles and values go way back.  As a matter of fact, I believe that the Pyramids were the first iterative development project.

A pyramid, as you may know, is a tomb for a Pharaoh.  We learned this in grade school.  But did you ever consider how they were able to be sure to have the pyramid done when the  Pharaoh died? One theory is that they did it by building the pyramid incrementally. They started with a small pyramid, just a tiny little pyramid.  Then they added a layer of stones around the outside of the first layer, then another, and another. Each layer of stone laid around the next to basically “skin” the pyramid with another layer.  Building this way the Ancient Egyptians could have the pyramid ready anytime.  If Pharaoh died – Viola- The pyramid is ready.

I wish I could take credit for making this observation but I read it somewhere a few years back.  If you know who made this observation first please let me know so I may credit them for their astute observation.

By | 2016-10-25T16:20:20+00:00 June 28th, 2010|agile|6 Comments

About the Author:


  1. Joseph T. Dager June 28, 2010 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Very good observation and one that I was not familiar with. But the application and solution is a wonderful design, is it not?

  2. Max Guernsey, III June 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Nice post. It got me thinking so I wrote this response: http://maxg3prog.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-can-we-learn-about-agility-from.html

  3. Alan Shalloway June 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Even if they built the pyramids incrementally, that does not make it agile. Agile is about using feedback to stay on track, to learn what the customer needed. I remember a real-world cartoon where it shows a huge cube made of bricks in the background and the pharaoh tells his chief engineer – “Did I say cube? I meant pyramid.” Of course, if they built it in stages and the pharaoh looked at it that provided feedback, but merely building in segments is not the test of agility.

    • Joseph Flahiff August 27, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

      yes this was from years ago. but I just got another link and I had to reply to this post.
      You are absolutely correct. building in segments (incrementally) does not make it agile. but it does make it incremental, which is all the article proposed. 🙂

  4. John August 24, 2012 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Here’s the article: http://bit.ly/NOVGwc

  5. Joseph Flahiff August 27, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Thank you John!!!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.