A Tale of Two Companies – A glimpse of life in an agile business versus a non-agile enterprise.

By Brian Lucas

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”Benjamin Franklin

If you look at the history of people and progress, you’ll see three types of people: those who are thought leaders and early adopters[1], those who will either give it a try or cautiously wait and see, but once they are really convinced will follow[2] and finally those who are philosophically and diametrically opposed and are obstructionists on a deeply emotional and philosophic level.  The people in the first category don’t need any convincing, while the people in the last category are a lost cause, but fortunately are in a minority[3].

It is no different with Agile.  There are those who do agile naturally and never can see what all the fuss is about and why you would work any other way[4], those who weren’t agile thinkers naturally[5], but once they really understand it will support it and finally those who to whom the fluidity, adaptability, shared responsibility and lack of completely centralized control that agile requires is an anathema.  Spending time trying to convince these people is a wasted effort; because even if you convinced them agile is better they will still remain in opposition.  It is the people in the second group that make the difference between widespread adoption with success or isolated deployment and failure.  This is where time and effort are best expended with education, guidance and mentoring.  One of the most effective ways of gaining an understanding of a concept for people in this group is by example.  So we are going to begin discussing agile concepts in a series of articles that contrast the agile approach with a non-agile one.

In this series of posts we will take a look at two different completely fictitious companies.  The first is called Pyramid Computer Software (PCS), the second is known as Adaptive Logik Solutions (ALS).  Both are software consulting, development and contract programming organizations.  PCS has been in business for three decades.  It was started by two sales executives from a large IT company.  They left their company because they wanted to be in total control of their own careers and it was a time of opportunity.  PCS grew slowly at first, but is now a billion dollar public corporation and has around 4000 employees.  It has a hierarchical structure with divisions organized along territorial lines.  In contrast, ALS has been in business for 5 years.  It was started by a software product manager who left a very large software development company because he didn’t like the bureaucracy.  ALS grew rapidly, but is now a public corporation valued at $900 million and has around 2500 employees.  It has a loose hierarchical structure organized along functional lines with most employees having two persons they report to – an organization manager and a team leader.  We’ll look at how each enterprise approaches both the serious challenges and simple needs of enterprise operations that occur every day.

1) Employee Suggestions

[1] 25% of the population.

[2] About 65% of the population.

[3] Less than 10%

[4] And can’t understand why this took so long and are already dreaming dreams of the next evolution, etc., etc., etc.  In short these are the leaders.

[5] These are the followers.

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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11 Responses to A Tale of Two Companies – A glimpse of life in an agile business versus a non-agile enterprise.

  1. Expedita says:

    thanks for such a great post and the review, i am totally impressed!

  2. Paul says:

    So well told and easy to read and understand. Why can’t the rest of your company’s blogs be as good as this. -Paul

  3. J.J.Beckworth says:

    Brian the article implied that there were more of these comparative storylines. I found this one so helpful in illustrating the point of agile thinking I would like to review the others. If there are others, can you point me to them? Also would you mind my using this content to help make the point of agile thinking? :Jim

  4. Rena says:

    Brian – I noticed that you are starting to footnote your articles more in recent posts. I was wondering if this script which was fantastic would benefit from that. I love the two companies comparison – it is a great concept!

  5. MichelleW says:

    Hi Brian: What a great idea!!! Where is the rest of the series and when will the movie come out! Are you looking for actresses?

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