SAIC and Leidos

This past week I read the news reports about SAIC selecting a new name — Leidos — for what will be the larger of the two companies when SAIC completes its planned split later this year. While I personally do not agree with splitting up the company, I can live with this new name. It’s not bad. I am glad, however, that the name SAIC will be retained for the smaller, technical services business.

– Bob


46 Responses to “SAIC and Leidos”

  1. 1 Josh

    Dr. Beyster,

    Retaining the SAIC name for one of the companies is one of the few things the management seem to have gotten right. Which you were still here to help put the interest of ourcustomers and the employees first.

  2. 2 Damian

    This is a very significant move on behalf of the SAIC leadership. It really pushes the “new company” concept forward without the lingering aftertaste of status quo. Regrettably they should have completed the naming transformation.

    I’m sure it’s really exciting to be at Leidos/SAIC – now that is has a solid 8 years worth of high-priority and high-visibility changes that really benefits not only the employees directly, but also benefits the customers.

  3. 3 David

    I do not see how the changes since Beyster’s departure have benefited the employees or the customers. They have benefited Wall Street. I have been an employee of the company for almost 20 years. It is the only job I have had.

    In the old days, a capable employee could build a portfolio of work within SAIC. We were free to market our ideas, and if someone wanted to pay for it, we could pursue it.

    Now, that is not the case. I went from essentially running my own shop within a corperate structure where I was bringing in money to support me and one or two other people to working on someone elses large programs.

    I have seen my benefits erode every year.

    The bean counters have taken over SAIC. And now, I will be in Leidos, which makes people think of Lidos Pizza (in the DC area).

  4. 4 Dr. Beyster

    Josh: Thank you for the note. While I don’t agree with everything that SAIC’s management has decided in recent years, I do wish the company and its employees well. — Bob

  5. 5 Dr. Beyster

    Damian: I believe you’re right: SAIC is going to be an entirely new company (or, more accurately, two companies) after the split. I look forward to seeing how this experiment goes, though I am sorry to see that many good employees are being left behind in the process. — Bob

  6. 6 Damian

    @David

    I spent several years at SAIC AT&SG/IISBU and have friends there now. Comparing the overall corporate climate and benefits of when Dr Beyster was President versus what they are now, you’d actually see they’ve gotten better and/or increased.

    In the old days things weren’t as great as you seem to think, and are nowhere as good as they are now. I certainly won’t mind getting into a discussion on specifics if we can keep it civil.

    But, at least we agree on the pizza reference.

  7. 7 Damian

    @ Dr Beyster

    Finding and retaining quality personnel has remains easy to do.

  8. 8 Dr. Beyster

    David: Thank you for your post. While I know very little about SAIC’s inner workings these days, I do know that when I was there we provided our people with limitless opportunities to build their own businesses within the company. That was one of the reasons why we attracted and retained so many highly qualified people over the years, some of whom eventually did leave SAIC to start their own successful companies. And of course employee ownership was a big part of the equation too. — Bob

  9. 9 Mike

    I recently left SAIC to join a small business. My main concern about the company’s direction is “energy,” namely being the human energy, emotions, and passion that deliver customer focus, innovation, and performance. SAIC’s greatest strength, and at times it’s greatest weakness was the fragmented pockets of bottoms up customer focused innovation. The company is now becoming top down/hierarchical and management driven, not employee driven. The recent executive decisions are confusing to the employees, corporate partners, and most importantly customers. However, the decisions do make sense to investors and executives who can now increase addressable opportunities that they previously could not pursue because of perceived OCI’s. In short, it feels like executives are making decisions so that they can make assumptions about future business opportunities that will allow growth projections to close. However, all these decisions make employees who were excited about entrepreneurship, and professional growth opportunities feel disenfranchised. If the employees made SAIC grow and flourish, and they’re now leaving, what will be the company’s new competitive advantage? I couldn’t answer this question in my own mind, but hopefully I’m wrong, and the answers are out there. It was hard to leave, but my time at SAIC gave me tremendous professional growth opportunities, and unfortunately a lot of amazing business lessons that are potentially destined for a Harvard Business School Case Study. I truly hope the operation is a success, and the patient survives. – Mike

  10. 10 Dr. Beyster

    Mike: I agree with you. The energy that SAIC used to have was quite strong. I am no longer there so I don’t know what the energy is like now. I do know that much of our strength as a company was due to our large size. — Bob

  11. 11 Ed

    Dr Beyster
    I’ve been with SAIC for over 21 years and am not particularly pleased with our last few years of “progress” since our going public. You had the right business concept. The current direction may lead to success for both companies but with terrible disruption, loss of identity, customer confusion, and loss of the employee commitment that was the original SAIC. All that was needed to keep the old SAIC going was continued good leadership, which evidently was/is lacking since you left.

  12. 12 Cathy

    I’ve been with SAIC for over 25 years and have worked closely with several people (who have been there even longer) for all those years. I was so enthused about the employee ownership and entrepreneurial spirit that was SAIC when I started and it made me really excited about my contribution to the company. I read Dr. Beyster’s book The SAIC Solution after we had gone public and longed for the “good ol’ days.” By the way, I remember most and worked for many of the people cited in the book and when I started we still had some JRB letterhead in the office!
    Since SAIC has gone public, it seems that all that matters is what is said on Wall St. and how the stock will react. Of course, the checks and balances that have been put in place to be SEC and GAAP correct are all necessary to run a sound business but the corporate bureaucracy and project management administrative requirements have become so burdensome (although the Leidos goal for the future is to minimize that – we’ll see.)
    With that said, I started buying SAIC stock in 1987 through the ESPP and when it became available through the 401k. I just stopped buying when the announcement of the company split came out.
    What will happen with this split, only the future will tell. I truly hope this is a brilliant move by our board and management and that SAIC and Leidos will both prosper in a great way. (I still have 2 years of college tuition to pay and my 401K has 50% equity in company stock!)

  13. 13 Dr. Beyster

    Cathy: I feel for you. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the company, but I’m not very optimistic at this moment. I did notice that the stock price has been inching up over the past couple of months so that at least is good news. — Bob

  14. 14 Dr. Beyster

    Ed: Thank you for your post on my blog. As you know, I do not think splitting up the company is a good idea, but they didn’t ask my opinion about it. It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out over the next year. — Bob

  15. 15 David

    Dr. Beyster,
    I’ve been an SAIC employee now for 34 years. It has been my first and only job. Up until recently, I’ve felt it was a fantastic company. I remember that while you were at the helm, you repeatedly said that one of the primary purposes of the company was to offer technical people a secure place to do interesting work of national importance. Employees were rewarded for entrepreneurship. Profits were important, but secondary. (By the way, do you have any references to this, perhaps published in “SAIC News” or some other place?)

    That has all changed now–employees have become a secondary consideration. The entire culture of the company has changed, and not for the better. All the things that made SAIC a special company have been dropped, in favor of policies that make it “just another company”.

  16. 16 Bob

    After 30 years in the Navy, I retired and worked the next 15 years for SAIC. When I was recuited by SAIC, I was impressed by what I saw and heard and by those whom I met. I signed on eagerly and immediately. When I retired from SAIC, I left a company that I no longer recognized. As soon as Dr. Beyster stepped down, everything changed.

    Sadly, I agree with what David has observed. Regrettably, David’s paragraph 2 comments are on target and should to be addressed.

  17. 17 Dick Fitzer

    Bob

    I whole heartedly agree that splitting up SAIC is a mistake

    However, at the time the decision was made to take SAIC public I thought that was a gigantic mistake and still feel that way today

    Working at SAIC for 33 years as an Employee Owner provided the greatest experience of my career

    Along with many other entrepreneurial Employee Owners, I derived immense satisfaction from trying to assist you in building a company renown for its dedication to helping the country.

    We concentrated on Nationally Important Programs (even to the point of doing it at a small loss as you so aptly emphasized at our 1976 stock holders meeting at the La Valencia).

    The unique settings for some of our most productive discussions, such as Botsfords on Friday afternoon or the Jack-in the-Box games at the Sports Arena, also contributed to the generation of some great technology and business enterprises

    You provided us with a technologist’s Camelot going (I’ve referred to it in this manner for many years) that the Wall Street Analysts can neither understand nor appreciate

    Keep the ideas following and regards to Betty

    Dick Fitzer

  18. 18 Dr. Beyster

    a.foley: I am sorry to hear that things have changed so much at SAIC. It is difficult for me to watch all this from the sidelines. — Bob

  19. 19 Dr. Beyster

    David: Thank you for your note, and congratulations on your 34 years with the company. That is a great accomplishment, and I for one appreciate your service. You are right. When I founded the company, I wanted to create a place where talented scientists and researchers could do interesting work of national importance. The emphasis was on providing innovative solutions to our customers at a reasonable price. Profit was never our number one priority, at least not while I was in charge. This is explained in great detail in my book The SAIC Solution, the second edition of which we will publish within a few months. — Bob

  20. 20 Dr. Beyster

    Dick: I’m glad to hear from you. Last week on the way to the boat I drove by one of the buildings your group occupied years ago, and I was wondering what happened with you. Thank you for your thoughts. We did have some good times, didn’t we? I enjoy sharing those memories with my friends, and I’m glad you wrote. — Bob

  21. 21 Kat Claxton

    I just met with an SAIC rep in McLean, VA. She told me that the proper way to pronounce Leidos is L-I-E-D-O-S-as in the middle portion of kaleidoscope. I am from the East Coast and thought the very same thing-LEDOS PIZZA. She corrected me though. They even have cute kaleidoscopes for their marketing campaign. She is very much troubled by what is happening on the admin side and is seeing many layoffs. I hope that the rest of you have a better fate and that both companies have arrangements that are positive for all employees moving forward. -Marriott Rep

  22. 22 Steve

    Dr. Beyster,

    My dad worked for SAIC in the late 70s to early 80s, and spoke positively and frequently in his later years of the company and its culture while he was there. SAIC was responsible for moving our family to Northern VA in 1979 when I was starting high school. My mom took a job there, and I had an engineering intern position there in the summer of 1984, which I remember quite fondly. There was a culture of excellence, continuous learning, and real purpose that I admired and felt very strongly. In many ways, the company you created had a significant and positive influence on the life of me and my family. Thank you!

    I know it’s not the same company that it once was, but I do believe there are still plenty of talented people there, and I hope the upcoming split proves beneficial to its employees, customers, and shareholders.

    -Steve in Pennsylvania

  23. 23 Dr. Beyster

    Steve: Thank you for your message on my blog. I am glad to hear that both you and your father had good experiences with SAIC, and that the company had a positive influence on you. There are indeed many talented people still with the company, and I wish them all well. — Bob

  24. 24 Dr. Beyster

    Kat: I have not seen any of those kaleidoscopes yet. Maybe someone will send one to me. — Bob

  25. 25 Steve

    To those who are suggesting that splitting up the company was a mistake – I think the bigger mistake happened several years earlier: converting from an employee owned company to a publicly traded company, and thus becoming accountable only to shareholders, some of whom could be employees, but most of whom would probably not. With that structure, the interests of the owners would not necessarily align with the interests of employees or even customers. Splitting up the company, whether or for better or for worse (and I hope it is for the better), was, in my opinion, a consequence of that earlier decision to change the ownership structure.

  26. 26 Dr. Beyster

    Steve: I agree that the IPO was an unwise move. We had opportunities early on to become a public company, and we made a point of turning them down because we did not want to have to work for the stock analysts instead of for our customers. — Bob

  27. 27 Mike

    I’ve been with SAIC for 13 years. I retired from the USAF and came right on board. I was thrilled to be a part of an entrepreneurial company. I was provided with numerous opportunities for professional growth and was incentivized for my innovation and business growth. Now, in the short period of a few years, that excitement has fizzled. I can no longer give a good answer as to why people should pursue a career at SAIC/Leidos. We’re a body shop that now hires and lays off. Investing in our people is no longer an option. I am currently searching for another SAIC that may be out there. Dr Beyster, I only wished that I had worked under your leadership for a few more years before you retired! But, you did leave a wonderful legacy and you impacted thousands of families. Thanks!

  28. 28 Dr. Beyster

    Mike: Thank you for your post and thank you for the kind words. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but that’s not how things worked out. Good luck in your search for the next SAIC. If you find it, please let me know. — Bob

  29. 29 DaveB

    Dr. Beyster,

    I am also one of the “Long Term” folks. Hitting 30 Years this Sept. I am in hope that the “Hard Spin” can wait until after the 6th of Sept. so I can truly claim I was 30 years with SAIC.
    I look back on my move fro Texas Instruments and think of my interview in Dayton those years ago. I had interviews on Wright Patt, SAIC and 2 other firms in Dayton. Within 15 minutes of the interview at SAIC starting, I had removed my Jacket and Tie and had helped move a 5 Draw safe and hung a White board. The office on Linden Ave. was in a old School building, complete with basketball court and stage area. We made due to keep cost down and was always thrilled to win a $50k or $100K contract. These small efforts were our life blood with getting established. I always could not wait to get to work and worked many hours at that time out of my own hide because the work we were doing made a difference and I personally signed up to “Get teh Job Done right”.

    I have hope for the Leidos/SAIC separation. I have many fears also. My opinions will not change the current course but maybe I can help “Lean” at the right time.

    Currently I have decided to “Ride the ride” and do the best I can for our customers as we go through this translation. You and I had a conversation a long time ago where I mentioned how my approach was “Take care of the Customers first, the fellow employees next and with doing those 2 things, the Company would be happy”. You smiled and shook your head up and down in agreement.

    I am disappointed in seeing others, a number with time at SAIC near or above 25 years, being asked to leave as the corporate focus shifts. I also worry if I will be able to ride this out until retirement is an option in another 10-15 years. Its one of the big question marks.

    On a personal note, I wanted to thank you for the vision to start SAIC… for giving me a chance to work with you and at the time a company that not only cared about the customers but about each employee. We were not looked at as employee numbers but members of an SAIC Family. You set a standard that will be hard for anyone in business to reach. Peace and Happiness your way Sir…. DaveB

  30. 30 Dr. Beyster

    DaveB: I hope you make it to 30 years with SAIC before the company splits up. I still agree with you that the customers should always come first. We worked on some important programs over the years, and we can all be very proud of the contributions we made to our nation’s security. Thank you for helping me build this great company. — Bob

  31. 31 Robin Billups

    Dr. B, from one July baby to another, Happy belated and His blessings for many more anniversaries of your birth.

    I have read the history of SAIC and am totally intrigued by your entrepreneurial spirit. My husband was a Purdue EE major, high security clearance before he hit the glass ceiling and began teaching – what a joy for him and his students.
    I began my career with Home Fed/San Diego 35 years ago – an entrepreneurial environ not like most at the time……great training and exceptional people.
    I joined my new company earlier this year. I would like 15 minutes on your calendar to gain insight – nothing pressing, you just come across as transparent, open-minded and compassionate. If I don’t hear back it’s ok, your history and story has affirmed a few things already.

    Be well, be blessed and count it all joy!

    Robin Billups

  32. 32 Damien

    Dr. Beyster,

    I was an employee of SAIC for a few months in 1998, my very first job out of college, and then went the way of a joint venture formed by SAIC and Rolls Royce. Though my tenure was short I very much admired the employee ownership model and the entrepreneurship at SAIC. It was interesting to track SAIC going public and now splitting up. I certainly hope it works out.

    Thanks for creating such an organization. I am glad I was part of it.

    Damien

  33. 33 Dr. Beyster

    Robin: Happy birthday to you too. It sounds like you and your husband have been fortunate in your work, as I was. Best wishes in your new position. — Bob

  34. 34 Dr. Beyster

    Damien: Thank you for your service to our company — it’s always good to hear from my colleagues at SAIC. I also hope that the split works out. So far the IPO has underperformed, but you never know what the future will bring. — Bob

  35. 35 Dr Brad

    I was one of the scientists that was let go when we went from being a science organization to a systems integrator. The “management” never realized that their real value was in the staff of expert scientists. Laying off this group,IMHO, was pure stupidity. And then all the management jumped on the bandwagon, and we lost science contracts.

    Yes, I went on to other places, but it was sad to see the place change. When I started there, I planned on being there until I retired. They had this attitude of ” when I want some science, we will buy it”

    No one in the USA seems to want scientists anymore. Then we wonder why every thing that we buy is made in China. Years ago I forecast that we will have our defense equipment designed in India and manufactured in China. How close are we to that now?

  36. 36 Dennis

    Dr. Beyster,

    SAIC under your leadership ways and will always be the treasured time of my career. I was very lucky in 13 years I moved from QA Analyst to Corporate Vice President. The opportunities at SAIC under your leadership was unlimited.

    Thanks Dr. B for everything and I still have my Certified Employee Owner lanyard and my Think Big button. :)

    God Bless,

    Dennis

  37. 37 Dr. Beyster

    Dennis: Thank you for your note. I am glad to hear you enjoyed your time at SAIC. It was indeed a very special place. Always Think Big! — Bob

  38. 38 Dr. Beyster

    Dr. Brad: I agree with you. Scientists and researchers were the heart of SAIC, and I believe they were key to our long-term growth and success. I believe there is still a place for scientists in our nation today, and I hope that others agree. — Bob

  39. 39 Bob

    Dr Beyster:

    I’m a 30 year employee and it’s sad to see what’s happenned to this great company since we went public …. the evidence is un-contestable that that was the beginning of the negative slide of the company. A bid par tof this was the big corporate company leadership that took over. As cited above, the change form an entrepreneurial firm to a wall street drone with no strategic focus due to quarterly earnings call pressure has homogenized SAIC into just another company. We had lost our mojo, the good folks we haven’t laid off have left for better opportunities, and I’ll most likely will make a change soon to leave the company I’ve spent more than 1/2 my life building. In actuality, the company has left me and many others. We miss your leadership and spirit. I met you on several occasions during my tenure and have the utmost respect for what you built .. a great company which has been taken down by wall street and revolving door leadership.

    Bob

  40. 40 Dr. Beyster

    Bob: I agree with you. I appreciate your message. — Bob

  41. 41 Josh

    Dr. Beyster,

    I agree with everything which has been said here! I joined SAIC at a great time for growth – 2002. It was exciting and my ideas were valued by my management. I really appreciated that senior level people would look to me to solve problems, even for outside customers than my main customer. I really liked being a resource for the BU – it made me feel invested in the success of my peers and my BU.

    The changes since your departure are disheartening – ALL of the peers and management I respected as being smart and motivated have left. Who’s left? The only people that seem to still be here are those which can’t seem to find outside work or opportunities. I finally pulled the trigger and have been aggressively searching for other employment. Fortunately, other companies recognize what experience and knowledge I could bring – thanks mainly to my time at SAIC and to you!

    My story is similar to many, I’m sure. Here’s the difference – rather than place blame entirely on company leadership, I feel the main fault lies with the BU management and line managers. They have become complacent and have failed to offer true leadership throughout this difficult transition into two companies. In my case, my contract is unstable, a recompete is required yet the customer has taken no actions to ensure it’s timely recompete and award, and MOST importantly…. I have lost confidence that my management would be able to find me programs to support in the event the customer elects not to continue our work. This lack of confidence is driving me out / driving me to find employment elsewhere. I could handle the erosion of our benefits but I can’t just watch my career and employment disappear.

    –Josh

  42. 42 Jim

    Dr. Beyster,
    I have never worked for SAIC,but have been reading your blog.
    It looks as though you were the type of manager that every employee would like to be associated with. You were in the people business, and that is a plus
    for any manager esp;CEO.

    I was reading your blog because I my son has started training through the hiring agency for LEIGOS in Knoxville. I Wish you luck with your new company.

    Jim Carini

  43. 43 Dr. Beyster

    Jim: Thank you for the kind words. Please send your son my best wishes for his new job. — Bob

  44. 44 Alan

    Dr. Beyster,

    I’ve worked at SAIC, now leidos, for 22 years. I’ve seen good and bad in that time. I’ve worked as a program manager as well as an engineer.

    As I understand it, the premise for going public was that we wanted to be like Lockheed and Northrup, and stock sales would fund a war chest that would enable us to chase more business. At the time I had doubts about the premise and those doubts have not changed. I’ve worked on contract as a Lockheed sub and I’ve worked alongside Northrup. We do not want to be them, we want to compete with them; there’s a difference. We’ve reduced the amount of fratricide that was common at SAIC, and that’s good. However, I don’t see how any of the other changes make us more competitive with Lockheed or Northrup. When I worked on a Lockheed subcontract, their management was afraid of us because of the staff we brought to the contract and the respect that staff had with the customer. Under your leadership I thought we needed to be bolder about chasing business, but that hasn’t changed since you left. For a while, stock prices rose, but then they dropped below the IPO price, so I suspect the expected war chest never materialized. Stock prices have risen over the last year, but that is probably a result of paying dividends more than anything else.

    I don’t buy into the premise for splitting the company either. Supposedly, we were interested in pursuing opportunities that Northrup was following, but there were OCI issues. It seems to me that if a company as large as Northrup can find a way to avoid the OCI issues, we should be able to do the same thing. I don’t see Northrup or Lockheed splnning off portions of their companies because of OCI issues, and they are both doing better than SAIC/leidos.

    Anyway, what’s done is done, but I can’t help wondering if we’ve restructured a big oceanliner into two smaller oceanliners because we think that smaller, faster ships will fare better in rough seas.

  45. 45 Dr. Beyster

    Alan. I tend to agree with you and your reasoning. SAIC/leidos is definitely not Lockheed or Northrop, and it should never be. — Bob

  46. 46 Jason Lichtstrahl

    Dr. Beyster,
    I am doing a project for my financial management course I am taking at UMBC. Would you be able to provide me with some answers to questions about SAIC?
    Please email me the best way to reach you, so I can forward the questions to you. Thank you very much.
    Jason L.

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