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relentless incrementalism

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Relentless incrementalism is a process in which something substantial is built through the accumulation of small but incessant additions. 

Relentless incrementalism is often recommended as an approach to accomplishing a daunting goal. A seemingly impossible objective may be achieved by steadily working towards it, perhaps by completing subtasks or sharing the work among multiple individuals. The essential components of relentless incrementalism are: 1. Getting started and accomplishing even small tasks or work segments regularly, and  2. Not stopping until the goal is achieved. 

The concept of relentless incrementalism derives from economics and social policy, is used in various areas of information technology and business management. Applied to a large effort like enterprise security, for example, the approach helps businesses start on a fundamental level and build on the initial efforts, decreasing their vulnerability as they do so. 

Relentless incrementalism is also an effective time management approach. Because it emphasizes the importance of accomplishing even small tasks regularly, it can help prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed by large projects. 

Agile project management, which is an iterative approach, can be considered an implementation of relentless incrementalism. 

This was last updated in February 2015

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