A couple months ago I got tired of hearing Michael Bloomberg’s name and not know much about the guy. So, over Christmas I went out and picked up a copy of Bloomberg by Bloomberg – a self styled autobiography.
Turns out Bloomberg is a pretty interesting guy. Before becoming mayor of New York, he was a partner at the now defunct Salomon Brothers on Wall Street. After being let go (with a severance of $10 Million), Bloomberg went out and started up his own financial information company. Thus was born the Bloomberg terminal (a dedicated computer for bringing stock and bond traders market information rapidly). To make a long story short, Bloomberg did very well, and almost ran for president this year.
So what does all of this have to do with agile?
Read the following passage from the book, and observe the parallels with agile in how Bloomberg handles classic too much to do, and not enough time problem.
In computer terms, doing it whenever needed, on the fly, is working from a “heap”, not a “stack” or a “queue.” Working from stacks and queues is the rigid, bureaucratized method of operating; it makes you take out things in a pre-described order (i.e. last in, first out for a stack). But if you work from a heap, where input and output are independent, you can use your head, selecting what you need, when you need it, based on outside criteria that are always changing (e.g., what’s need now, such as responding immediately to a customer complaint or getting a gift for your spouse’s birthday when that day arrives and you’ve totally forgotten).
Michael definitely gets it. He knows things won’t go according to plan. He intuitively understands that priorities are going to change. And he places great value in being able to respond immediately to a customer (or significant others birthday).
Something I have grown to feel over the years is agile is nothing new. If anything it is as old as time. It is a natural way of working, that people instinctively do all by themselves.
This was just another example of an entrepreneur being agile back in the 80s.