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, those who will either give it a try or cautiously wait and see, but once they are really convinced will follow 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.
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, those who weren’t agile thinkers naturally, 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.