(FORTUNE Magazine) – So here's Joe Guglielmi, a 30-year veteran IBM executive, sitting -- tieless -- in his spartan office beside Route 280 in Cupertino, California. The support staff consists of Jo Ann Vander Vennet, his administrative assistant. And the computer on the desk is a Macintosh. Whoa, Joe! Is this the twilight zone, or what? Well, almost. It's Taligent, the software joint venture between IBM and Apple, of which Guglielmi, 51, is the chief executive. The technological challenge -- to develop an object-oriented operating system to compete with Microsoft and Next -- is tough. The social engineering challenge -- to create a new corporate culture out of the collision of two diametrically opposed operating philosophies -- may be even tougher. Call it Big Blue comes to Steve's garage. Does this sound like corporate culture shock? ''Yes, there's a dramatic difference,'' admits Guglielmi. ''IBM is a very hierarchical company. Plans go up, are consolidated, and come back down as one worldwide strategy. Apple is a group of empowered individuals doing great things with great technology. Decisions are made at very low levels all the time.'' But while the Apple way lends itself to much greater speed -- a necessity in high-tech industry -- both systems have their downsides, Guglielmi says. Everyone knows hierarchy slows things down, but you should recognize too that ''empowerment without process leads to anarchy.'' Because most of Taligent's 260 or so employees come from either Apple or some other loose Silicon Valley culture, Guglielmi's first big hurdle was a dress code. ''They asked about it right away. I told them I wouldn't comment on the way they dressed if they wouldn't comment on the way I dressed.'' (He's prone to slick sports parkas and aviator shades -- just the right look for his sporty Jaguar.) Guglielmi admits to missing the support structure that was such a part of his former culture: ''When I was running the applications software business for IBM, I had a senior secretary, an assistant, and an office worker to handle the mail. When I traveled, it was usually with one or two other people minimum. Today it's me and Jo Ann. I travel alone, which took some retraining. And I do my own mail.'' Comfortable as all that support was, he says, he sees now that it has a distinct negative side: insulation. ''An executive at IBM really has to work hard to stay in touch with what's going on. If you never experience the problem -- but only read about it -- you're so detached it's hard to imagine coming up with the solution.'' What he misses least about IBM is the hierarchical decision-making process. Still, Guglielmi -- an ardent IBM loyalist -- does try to impose some of what he feels are the best aspects of IBM culture on to the new company, and not surprisingly, he meets resistance from the former Apple folks. ''I like to measure performance,'' he says, ''and that requires some discipline. I ask questions like 'What's your process for doing this?' or 'How do you know you can repeat it?' 'I'm tired of folklore,' I tell them. 'I want some data.' '' At first, says Guglielmi, the natural instinct of the Apple folks is to resist, to say, '' 'You can't do this, you can't keep track of this or that process.' But then they try it, and if it works, they love it. If it doesn't, we try something else.'' So forbidding is the IBM culture these days, says Paul Carroll, a journalist who is completing a book about IBM's troubles, that it has become a negative icon to those who would succeed. According to Carroll, when a group of IBM executives led a spinoff of some IBM operations and created their own company, called Lexmark International, one of their first acts was to install Big Blue's bulky procedures manual in the middle of the plant floor -- encased in Lucite. They wanted everyone to remember it as historically significant. They didn't want anyone using it.