HPMD Quotes & Sources
Here's how it looked to West: The company could not afford to field two new big computers; Data General bad made a large investment in North Carolina as a place where major computers would be built; and although the Eclipse Group's engineers had good technical reputations, North Carolina's had better ones. The game was fixed for North Carolina and all the support groups knew it.
So West started out by calling Eagle "insurance"—it would be there in case something went wrong down south. Thus he avoided an open fight and thus he could argue that the support groups should hedge their bets and put at least a little effort into this project, too. As for North Carolina's superior reputation, West never stopped suggesting to people around Westborough that their talents had been slighted. His message was: "Let's show 'em what we can do."
"West takes lemons and makes lemonade," observed Alsing.
From the first rule—that you must compete for resources—it followed that if your group was vying with another for the right to get a new machine out the door, then you had to promise to finish yours sooner, or at least just as soon as the other team promised. West had said that the Eclipse Group would do EGO in a year. North Carolina had said, okay, they'd finish their machine in a year. In turn, West had said that Eagle would come to life in a year. West said he felt he had to pursue "what's-the-earliest-date-by-which-you-can't-prove-you-won't-be-finished" scheduling in this case. "We have to do it in a year to have any chance." But you felt obliged to set such a schedule anyway, in order to demonstrate to the ultimate bosses strong determination.
Promising to achieve a nearly impossible schedule was a way of signing up—the subject of the third rule, as I saw it. Signing up required, of course, that you fervently desire the right to build your machine and that you do whatever was necessary for success, including putting in lots of overtime, for no extra pay.
The fourth rule seemed to say that if the team succeeded, those who had signed up would get a reward. No one in the group felt certain that stock options were promised in case of success. "But it sure as hell was suggested!" said one of the Microkids. All members of the team insisted that with or without the lure of gold, they would have worked hard. But for a while, at least, the implied promise did boost spirits, which were generally high anyway.
I think that those were the rules that they were playing by, and when I recited them to some of the team's managers, they seemed to think so, too. But Alsing said there was probably another rule that stated, "One never explicitly plays by these rules."
--Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine, pp. 112-113.
"Promising to achieve a nearly impossible schedule was a way of signing up... Signing up required, of course, that you fervently desire the right to build your machine and that you do whatever was necessary for success..." --Tracy Kidder
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|Title:||The Soul of a New Machine|
|Place (City):||New York|