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  • Writer's pictureyashasree barve

An Agilist's musings over Chandrayaan 3's Triumph

The success of Chandrayaan 3, India's remarkable moon mission, has captured our collective imagination. As an Agile coach, I couldn't help but notice how this mission resonates with the core principles of the Agile manifesto. Here are my five key takeaways from Chandrayaan 3 that struck me as an agilist.

  1. Learning from the Failures: In the Agile world, we often talk about the importance of learning from failures and using them to improve. Fail fast, Learn fast is often used as a way to experiment and learn from those experiments. Chandrayaan 3's success owes a lot to the lessons learned from Chandrayaan 2's unfortunate setback. The team behind the mission Chandrayaan 2 analyzed the failure meticulously over months, identifying the root causes and addressing those. This helped them to be ready for addressing any potential failure points. This approach mirrors the Agile principle of "Inspect and Adapt." Just like Agile teams reflect on their sprints to improve, Team ISRO leveraged failures as stepping stones to success.

  2. Trust and support for motivated individuals: The Agile manifesto principle states: "Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done". The Chandrayaan 3 leadership team and the Government of India embodied this principle. The leadership's decision to retain and nurture the team instead of replacing them after previous failures showcases the trust and support the team received leading to an epic triumph.

  3. Purpose centricity: The scientists and experts on the team exhibited unwavering dedication to the mission, despite having the option to work elsewhere for higher pay. For the talent and caliber they exhibit, this team of scientists could easily get paid 5-6 times more if they work in private sector or outside of India. However they chose to work for ISRO for the nation building efforts. The purpose that they have in their minds surely fuels their efforts and also inspires a whole generation of young Indians to enter this exciting field of space research and work for ISRO.

  4. Innovative Solutions in Constraints: ISRO's space missions have consistently demonstrated innovation within constraints. The Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) achieved its goal at a budget lower than that of the Hollywood's movie 'Gravity', and Chandrayaan 3 followed suit with a budget equivalent to a recent Bollywood's movie 'Adipurush'. These feats are akin to agile principle of delivering valuable outcomes with limited resources. Encouraging innovative approaches within tight constraints fosters creativity and ensures outcome centricity with resource efficiency.

  5. Diversification and Commercial Aspects: Funding research and futuristic projects is often a challenge. Chandrayaan's story stands out because it embodies both government funding and commercial aspects. By leveraging collaborations with other countries, launching satellites, and offering services, the program generates revenue for further research. This combination of revenue generation and research echoes the agile concept of delivering business value while promoting sustainability.

As an Agile coach, witnessing the alignment between Chandrayaan 3's success and Agile principles is inspiring. Learning from failures, supporting motivated individuals, innovating within constraints, purpose centricity and embracing commercial aspects — these elements reflect the essence of Agile philosophy. Chandrayaan's triumphant journey to the moon not only advances space exploration but also offers valuable insights for those of us in the Agile community.

Image credits for title image: Rocket illustrations by Storyset

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