Updated: May 2
My master's thesis examined the way of working in the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam, critically exploring an agile approach. I found that there is potential for a reflective and responsive way of working in planning departments (see conclusions of a series of blog posts here), and that it is already partially happening in Amsterdam.
Doing the research brought up several questions, and I think there is still a lot more to explore. I will outline some ideas with my rationale below:
Dig deeper into implementation of the ideas Implementation of the ideas behind agile is not easy. In order to avoid problematic implementations like the software development industry has experienced, more research needs to be done on how implementation might happen in the urban planning context. This has a few possible directions: a) Critically explore the utility of using an existing agile methodology (e.g. scrum) in planning practice. If some utility exists, compare performance of different methodologies; b) Explore the usefulness and feasibility of developing a methodology more tailored to the planning context; c) Research working in an agile way without a prescribed methodology.
Compare an agile and a non-agile planning project The Alexanderplein project was overall quite an agile intervention, but it could be useful to have a clear picture painted of what is not. Conduct a detailed comparative analysis and compare to what extent each project uses less time and money while better serving citizens.
Expand geographic reach of research This research focused on 12 Amsterdam practitioners. To gauge how the findings generalize, research in other contexts could be conducted.
Do more testing of potential solutions To expand on the small test done during the research, thoroughly test the two chosen solutions with more respondents and explore the specific connections between them and (elements of) agile in a more qualitative manner. Or, identify other potential solutions and test them as such.
Cover of original master's thesis
Update: since this blog post was written, an academic article has been published on the thesis research (see here, open access).