I think business is a lot like politics… if you think there’s one right way to do it, you’re an idiot.
I’m always amazed at how people are so eager to run their business like someone whose blog posts they read, without any regard for reality. I’m talking mostly about software development companies, since that’s about the only thing I know anything about. :P
37 Signals’ “screw specs, get work done” way of doing things has worked really well for them. But if you think that means specs are always bad, you’re in trouble.
Google’s “hire only insanely bright people, and give them 20% of their time to screw around” comes up often. It’s not everyone that takes to having that much of their time be undirected though. And unless you’ve got Google’s HR budget (and trust me, you don’t), have fun being able to spend enough time to make sure you only hire the best and brightest.
FogCreek’s heavy emphasis on functional specs, and all that jazz. They’re pretty darn successful, and though Joel loves talking up his process, following it verbatim isn’t going to duplicate his results.
- Make something neat
- Throw monetization strategy out the window
- Get an assload of VC money
It’s not their process that should be mimicked. I think what made those guys successful (other than a bit of luck), is passion. And you can’t buy that, or somehow change things around at your company to somehow get it. Passion about what you’re working on is what makes you persevere through whatever pains. Whether you were using Agile or Waterfall doesn’t matter too much at that point.
Now if you actually DO have passion, I still think trying to be carbon copy of another company is a stupid idea. Figure out what works for you, and what seems natural for staff. I think the biggest mistake you can make though, is trying to force process top-down.