If there was one best way to set up and manage an organization all companies would be set up and managed the same way.

I’ve recently had this funny feeling when I started to hear the Agile software methodology religion. We just started a rollout of Rally Software.  A great company with great leadership, BTW.

It occurs to me: its not the methodology (Agile) or the org structure (Matrix), or the SFA tool (Salesforce.com).  Its the people, culture, trust, competency, and the common desire to accomplish great things, succeed and win.  The other stuff just helps streamline communication, responsibilities, and “agility” of the potential that already exists.

Back to my “one best way” comment above.. My experience suggests that most people/companies approach things exactly backwards:

1. Start with an org structure or chart (matrix) – or – a methodology (agile) – or a tool (salesforce.com).

2. Next, go about determining what people need to do (tasks), by when (dates), and how they should use (processes) their shiny new matrix, methodology, or tool.

3. Then, they put people in.

What we ought to do is go the other way around:

1. Starting with getting the best people possible around the table (or on the Bus as Jim Collins would say).

2. Stand in the successful future (this is a mindset thing)

3. Once you have an idea of what you want to be possible, then you can begin to break it into goals, dates, tasks, processes, and yes, structures/methodologies/tools.

My problem with a Matrix, Agile, or even Salesforce.com is that they all have just as much promise as they have the potential to obfuscate and insulate.  Its not the tool’s fault, its the people using them and the way they’re used that makes the difference.