Agility and Resiliency: A Winning Combination!


Agile Case Study – Watershed Master Plan

Program for Flooding Resiliency



By Alicia Lanier

North Carolina, USA


The City of Fayetteville, North Carolina, successfully incorporated Agile philosophies and methodologies into a multi-million-dollar planning program for flooding resiliency. The high level of complexity due to the unknowns, size, distributed team, aggressive schedule, and other characteristics understandably created challenges, yet operating with agility yielded remarkable successes. As noted by others (San Cristóbal, J. R et al, 2018) traditional project management tools and techniques are insufficient for complex dynamic projects.  This article reviews how the adoption of an Agile philosophy combined with iterative and adaptive tools contributed to these successes. Agile has been described as a way of ‘incrementally delivering change to get the earliest possible benefit, get feedback early on what works, and change direction accordingly’ (Wernham, 2012). The management aspects discussed in this article that supported the program include adapted Agile principles, the framework which includes iterating and adapting frequently, and continuous collaboration.


City of Fayetteville leaders embarked on this ambitious program in 2019 to better understand the magnitude and severity of flooding across the entire city and use that knowledge to proactively develop stormwater flood mitigation projects. Leaders understood that a comprehensive evaluation would support resiliency by providing a portfolio of prioritized projects to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for both short-and long-term implementation. The goals were to apply resources equitably across the city, identify creative regional-scale projects, and leverage inter-governmental and cross-departmental collaborations. The foundation was established within four years to include an intensive rebuild of the city stormwater geodatabase, a city-wide stormwater asset field survey, parallel watershed modeling efforts by several consulting teams, scoring and ranking flooding concern areas, and the development of over 200 proposed solutions. By 2023, four out of 15 watershed master plan studies were completed. Designs for selected projects from those studies were begun and four additional watershed master plan studies initiated. Creative cornerstone projects were developed and state and federal grant funding applications submitted to leverage city funds. This program supports the city’s goal to become more resilient (Lanier, 2023).

Adapting and applying Agile principles (for original Agile Principles refer to the Agile Manifesto, Fowler and Highstreet, 2001) helped overcome challenges inherent in this complex program. The continuous collaboration among all team members with dedicated involvement by the Sponsor was crucial. Because the team was distributed geographically and across corporations and local government, establishing communication and trust was essential (Eckstein, 2010; Thuerbach, 2014).  This need was supported by reflecting regularly to adapt and respond to change, show continuous progress and ensuring alignment with the vision by delivering measurable results, and honoring the commitment to value people over process.

Adapted Agile Principles

The adapted Agile principles include the following:


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How to cite this article: Lanier, A. (2023).  Agility and Resiliency: A Winning Combination! Agile Case Study – Watershed Master Plan Program for Flooding Resiliency, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue V, May.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/pmwj129-May2023-Lanier-Agility-and-Resiliency-A-Winning-Combination.pdf

About the Author

Alicia Lanier

North Carolina, USA


Alicia Lanier, PE, supports the City of Fayetteville, NC, managing the Citywide Watershed Master Plan program.  Alicia has over 20 years of consulting experience providing project management services to complex projects for various clients.  In her current role, Alicia focuses on supporting cross-collaborations of internal and external teams and building intergovernmental and institutional partnerships.  She can be contacted at alicia@lanier-consulting.com