My dad started developing in the late 1960s. He did a lot of in-house software, mainly manufacturing and insurance systems. His approach was to go out and see something in use, talk to the people using it, go back to his office, write something, release it, and go talk to the people again. He'd do that loop in as little as a couple of days.
Today we'd call that obviously agile. But both back then and now, higher-ups wanted more "control", by which they meant feelings and appearance of control. Which caused longer feedback loops. Which made things more out of control, which required more process and even longer feedback loops.
I think we have the same struggle today, and I have no idea how to get out of it.