My #Agile metaphor – La Sagrada Familia


While I was brushing up my presentation for SQL Saturday in Madision, I came across what I felt was a wonderful metaphor for Agile.

La Sagrada Familia

I first became aware of La Sagrada Familia thanks to the iconic album ‘Gaudi’ by the Alan Parsons Project. I was intrigued by the title track and immediately started reading up on Antonio Gaudi and the passion he had. On a side note, I must have read at least 10 books based on Alan Parson songs, but I digress. 🙂

If you haven’t heard of La Sagrada Familia, it is an architectural marvel in the city of Barcelona in Spain. It was built starting in 1882 and still is not completed. The latest estimates peg the completion date somewhere around 2026. (The centenary of Antonio Gaudi’s death) The building and undertaking is so large that parts of the church are undergoing restoration while new construction is going on. It is an absolute marvel of construction and a testament of what can be achieved by a community.

Comparison to Agile

I love the metaphor of the La Sagrada Familia to Agile as Antonio Gaudi did not set out to build a church. Actually, Antonio Gaudi did not even start the project. He became the architect two years after the construction was started by Josep Maria Bocabella. Antonio Gaudi took over control of the design in 1884 and changed the design to be more grandiose and ultimately something that he knew would never be completed in his lifetime. This was a passion for him and he saw it as a calling that he knew he would never finish. He knew that the church was more than he could hope to complete, but he continued create and build onto the church right until his final days. The work on La Sagrada Familia has continued right until the current days with a multitude of people contributing and adding onto the design.

To tell you the truth I hope they never complete the construction. It would take away the majesty and wonder.

I see the construction of La Sagrada Familia similar to work we have all contributed to Agile since the Agile Manifesto. Agile was created by a small group of individuals in an attempt to create something larger than themselves that they had a great passion for. Likewise, they also believed that Agile wasn’t something that would ever be complete. The work of adding and enhancing Agile will always continue. No matter how many days have passed, there is always more to do and improvements that need to be done. Although the work was started by a smaller group of individuals, they have given the idea to the community at large and all of us continue to contribute to Agile and grow the idea. No one person owns the idea and concept, it is owned and is being built on by all of us.

And just like La Sagrada Familia, I sincerely hope we will never consider it to be complete.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

One thought on “My #Agile metaphor – La Sagrada Familia”

  1. Hi Terry,

    I did notice that before architects were also project managers. I wonder why that has changed – because when it was the case, giant construction projects were accomplished efficiently.


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