A Parable of Agile Transformation

10 10 2011

“We want you to help us get to the point where we can compete in the Indianapolis 500.”

“Do you want to win it?”

“Well, sure, I guess that’d be nice eventually and all, but for the time being let’s just look at becoming competitive, shall we?”

“Sure, sure.  All right.  Well, first, let’s have a look here at the kind of car you’ll need.  This, for example, is the car that Jacques Lazier drove in 2007.”

“Heh.  That’s pretty funny.  No, we’re pretty happy with the vehicle we have.”

“You’ll never make it with an 18-wheeler.”

“Well, that’s what you’re here for.  Our 18-wheeler can carry 80,000 pounds of cargo.  How much can your funny-looking little car carry?”

“That’s not the point.  The Indy 500 is not about carrying as much weight as you can, it’s about carrying as little weight as you can.  The less weight, the better.”

“But look how small it is!  Where’s the sleeper cab?”

“There’s no sleeper cab.  There’s no second driver.  Indy races aren’t long enough to need more than one driver; they’re over in a few hours.”

“I don’t like the fact that it only has four wheels.  Our truck has duallies for a reason: if we lose a tire miles from help, we can slow down and run on its dual partner until we get somewhere where we can get the tire changed.”

“An Indy car is never more than one lap from a complete full-service rebuild shop, and it goes fast enough that it can coast into the pit with a flat tire or a blown engine.  And anyway, the tires don’t have a chance to get old; we change them at least every hour.”

“Yeah, and that’s another thing.  Reliability.  Our big rumbly low-RPM diesel engine is just better than your little snarly thing: we haven’t had to do any major service on it since the 1980s!”

“But there’s no need for that kind of reliability in the engine of an Indy car: it’s torn down and completely rebuilt after every few hours of operation!”

“And what’s with those stupid-looking wings on the car?  Those’ve gotta be just needless expense.”

“You’ve never experienced the need for a wing, because your truck can’t go fast enough to use one.  But when you get up to Indy-car speeds, you have to have wings because if you don’t you’ll go flying off into the grandstand.”

“But your car isn’t even street-legal!  Where are the headlights?  We’d end up in trouble with the law with that thing!”

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a private track, not a public road.  Street laws don’t apply.  Besides, the Indy 500 is always held in the daytime.  Headlights would be useless extra weight.”

“Well, mostly we were hoping that you could modify our truck so that we could push the accelerator down past level with the floor–you know, to make it go faster.”

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2 responses

13 10 2011
Eric Wilson

I think that it’s likely that after this conversation, you would also be tasked with a second modification to the truck: Add some wings, they do look kindof cool, and we may need them once you get this thing really moving.

13 10 2011
dnwiebe

Yeah, I kind of figured folks who read this might post comments with further exchanges.

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