From: John Larkin
Subject: Re: Cutting corners?
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 14:31:15 -0800
Organization: Posted via Supernews, http://www.supernews.com
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On Mon, 23 Dec 2002 19:28:35 -0000, "John Jardine"
>I always remember a comment from either H or P of HP (both engineers?) that
>his style of management was "management by walking about". He also
>understood that if one of his engineers fancied building themself a hifi
>using the companies hi-tec products, then by hook or by crook they would.
>Completely bypassing any clever accounting or management system that may
>have been in place. I believe he wrote an autobiog' and would love to read
>more words of his wisdom.
David Packard wrote "The HP Way", which is a bit sugar-coated but well
worth reading. "Winning With People: The First 40 Years of Tektronix"
is good too. These must have been wonderful places to work in the
>The companies you mention are what I'd know as good companies. 'Shining
>beacons' that should set an example to the rest. They make good use of their
>skilled people and prosper because of it. I reckon though, they are part of
>a minority, and the 'rest' don't take their example as they simply can't.
>My own experience has been within that of UK companies and there may be
>significant cultural differences between the US and UK but I've noticed the
>higher that one rises within a UK company then the more likely that the
>controllers are all of a similar class and background. The highest levels
>are usually reserved for those having a upper-middle class protestant
>background, expensive public school education, classics graduates, white and
>male. Engineers/skilled people, don't even scan on their radar or are
>regarded as people to be kept in a back room or simply nerds.
>The general view from the top of the tree is that they alone are natural
>born leaders and all the plebs must naturally follow. This view permeates
>down through numerous layers of sub-servient management lackeys only
>dissapating towards the engineering levels. The a**e-licking that goes on a
>UK board meeting in session is *not* a pretty sight.
>I therefore feel the majority of so called management quite rightly deserves
>a good bashing.
I think that Britian has always been more class-oriented than the US;
if Karl Marx had spent less time in London and more in Chicago, he
might have written a different book. I am rereading Patrick O'Brian's
wonderful Aubrey/Maturin books about the Royal Navy in the time of
Napoleon, when it was a trend for only 'gentlemen' to be promoted as
naval officers, regardless of their leadership or seamanship skills.
A big proportion of the managers, founders, and owners in Silicon
Valley are Asian/Indian, not always protestant white boys. A few are
women, and other minorities, too.
We of course have fathead managers here, but there are lots of
companies, big and small, that have good, technically competant
managers. At HP, at least in the glory days, nobody could manage or
market a product unless they had worked their way up in the technical
ranks and absolutely understood the technology. Carly, of course,
broke that pattern, and I suspect it will hurt in the long run.
Really good engineers and programmers tend to not like (ie, walk out
on) jerkoid managers - because they can - so there is a positive
feedback, where the better organizations keep getting better.
I like smaller companies, where all the owners and managers are
technologists, and not just bottom-line quarterly moneymongers.