Leidos, a name with a kaleidoscope of problems

SAIC is one of those awkward corporate initialisms you just want to avoid. Do you try to say it (say-ick), or spell it out letter-by-letter?

It stands for Science Applications International Corp, a name that tells you little more than the initials.

No matter. SAIC is an American contracting company that you’ll probably never have a need to call.

In what is a difficult market for government services, SAIC has decided to split itself into two to ‘enhance’ shareholder value. The smaller of the two companies will keep the name SAIC and stay focused on its core business.

The other entity will be spun off as a new company focusing on technology for the national security, health and engineering sectors. So here is a chance for SAIC, or a part of it, to come out from behind its anonymity and say something to the market about what it stands for and why it exists.

Enter ‘Leidos’.

In a press release SAIC explains that the origin of the name Leidos is to be found hidden in the word kaleidoscope and “reflects the company’s effort to unite solutions from different angles.”


If, like me, you are having trouble trying to figure out how solutions can be united from different angles, try this wonderful piece of PR hyperbole:

“It’s a memorable word with dynamic connotations that capture the energy, talent and passion that our employees bring as they work to deliver solutions that protect our nation, our communities, and our families.”

Leidos (Lydos, Laydos? Leedos?) is a coinage that has the primary virtue of being (presumably) available. As a name it connotes nothing at all. Nothing. And why should it? It’s just a made-up name based on a piece of a word that, in and of itself, has no inherent meaning.

Eventually, with a lot of investment around a focused brand strategy, Leidos might begin to contain ‘dynamic connotations that capture the energy, talent and passion of our employees”.

Until then, the company should begin to figure out who it is and why people on whom it depends should care about its existence, and not depend on an unremarkable six-letter word to do all the explaining.

The Washington Post weighs in: http://tinyurl.com/b4mqq3b

11 thoughts on “Leidos, a name with a kaleidoscope of problems

  1. nowaysteve

    SAIC Frederick is now part of Leidos. No raises in 4 years? A giant “f you” to employees”. We’ll see how long that lasts. If you’re listening Dr. Heimbrook, this should be your #1 priority!!! The contract restructure is not more important than the talent pool.

  2. D

    It is sad to see people respond to the name of a company like this only to forget the outstanding good that it has done since it stood up in the 1960’s. Splitting the company is a great decision, given the fact that the market is changing. As far as “lying to us”…? This statement more than likely came from an employee who slipped through the cracks in the hiring process and can’t shoulder the responsibility of being an actual professional. I would hope that anyone reading this dribble considers the fact that the author may just be disgruntled over the fact the he/she lacks the professionalism necessary to get hired by a great company like SAIC or Leidos and seems to have no other worth in life than to “Blog” like a 14 year old school girl.

    1. G

      Take a look in the mirror. Rermember when you point your finger at something or someone there are at least three other fingers pointing right back at you. Also, why didn’t you state some examples of the “outstanding good” that SAIC has actually done or some specific evidence that spliting the company is a good thing to do? Does the concept of “bait and switch” mean anything to you? It’s what companies do to try to sell you things that most people have become smart enough not to buy. By the way, are you a member of the SAIC board or a major stockholder? I am sure you have something to gain from your comments. As a person that has worked with and for SAIC for years with nothing to gain from my opinion, I can lend some crediabilty to some of the other “blogs” here and especially the perspective and conclusions of the article above.

      1. Alex Fraser

        I’m always amazed at how people to bitch and comment about things without offering any proof. After reading G’s statement I decided to root around and see what SAIC does and who they are. And oh yea, I’m not an employee, a stockholder or on the Board of Directors, just a person interested in knowing the truth.
        So far starters, I found out that SAIC has been around since 1969, 44 years. So what every they’ve been doing, lots people thinks it’s important because they’ve been paying them to do it for almost a half a century. I also found out that they employ 14,000 people (how many people do you provide a job for “G”?). And according to their webpage, and granted this is their information, they had a revenue last year of about $14 billion dollars. So again, they must be doing something right if people pay them that much money, they employ that many people and they’ve at this for 44 years.
        It’s hard to believe that they’re the SOB’s that “G” makes them out to be (14,000 employees can’t be that stupid). And I found out one other thing that I thought was interesting: Last year, they paid out $460 million dollars in subcontracts to veteran owned business, with more than half of that going to service disabled veteran owned businesses. I don’t any other company, including the VA, that make that claim.
        So, after reading what “G” had to say and then looking up SAIC myself, I’m sure that SAIC isn’t an angle rising up to heaven, but they sound pretty good. And “G”… well “G” just sound like one of those nameless people who likes to run everybody and everything down. When I run into those types of whining people, I always have to ask “So what have you done to make things better?” Well “G,” what have you done?
        Oh and “G,” good comments about pointing a finger in the mirror and having three fingers pointing back. That comment really touched me man. I’m not sure what it has to do with anything, but it was prophetic (LOL).
        Footnote: It looks like Wikipedia got it wrong. SAIC isn’t a spinoff of Leidos. It’s the other way around. Wow, there goes my faith in Wikipedia..

  3. Leidos Employee

    As an employee of the soon to be “Leidos” I can tell you that sadly, the name is a reflection of the company. They are attempting to become a technology firm with no concept of the practices needed. There is no direction or guidance, they don’t listen to their experts and everything seems to be run off ego, not intelligence. They have talent but no management, and they view employees as very disposable. I hope they turn things around but it only seems to be getting worse.

  4. Phoebus Klyne

    The original company has been an amorphous blob with lots of fiefdoms scattered around, each having it’s distinctive personality (whether mercurial, unfriendly, unpredictable, schizophrenic). Now the blob has undergone mitosis and we have two blobs. It doesn’t necessarily take professional expertise to succeed in this company — it does, however, take a certain set of vales and mindset that most people find troubling.

  5. phoebus jones

    The employees sort of fend for themselves. It’s a mess. I tried it, didn’t like it and left. Some people manage to make it though, especially in parts of the country where there are very few other options for making a halfway decent living. How the company succeeds — in spite of the way its employees feel about it — is worthy of a major business school study.

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