Skip to main content

#AI@Work: The Rest is History

Pointing fingers doesn’t help. Wang is a notable example of obsolescence and disruption. Unable to move past leadership troubles, slow declines turned into fast declines and, poof, they were gone. Certainly, there are questions of nepotism and whether Wang should have remained basically a family business. An Wang’s ego played a big part in the inability to be agile and move in a new direction. When he insisted his son, Fred, take over as leader, shares that topped the $800 mark lost $424 million. That is a near 50% loss in a single fiscal year. When Wang filed for bankruptcy in 1992, the company was over $500 million in debt. (Smith, E. 2017; L.A. Times, August 19, 1992).

Data General (DG) survived a little longer but not much. Data General also disappeared. EMC, a very large storage company, bought DG. Edson deCastro, one of four founders, had left DEC to establish Data General in 1968 (Computer History Museum, 2019). In 1969 DG released the Nova minicomputer. It quickly became a popular machine with science and education markets. They were the punk rockers of the minicomputer era, known for competitive management style and menacing technical vision. After a long struggle in one hardware market or another, they too were unable to be agile enough to transition to the PC era.

Famous for their engineering, the crew that made DG a company of innovation jumped ship in the early 1980s. They saw the handwriting on the wall. Minicomputers were out and the PC was in. Twenty years ago, The Soul of a New Machine by Tom West talked about the inner workings of high-tech leadership. Tom was a top engineer at DG, and a project leader. The book discusses territorialism, leadership motivations, revelations and devotion. It talks about protecting resources, political wars and burnout. It tells the story of building the Eagle MV/8000 mini-supercomputer, and why DG was split up between Massachusetts, the original home, and Research Triangle in North Carolina. (There were tax issues with the governor.) It talks about bitter internal competition and authoritarian leadership styles. The Eagle was supposed to save DG, but it didn’t. DG lost market share to DEC and the rest is history.

#AI@Work, #WFH, #Virtual Touchpoints, #ThePajamaEffect, #The Visual Connection, #BobbeGB, #BobbeBaggio, #Touchpoints, #Remote Workplace, #WorkFromHome, #PJEffect, #LinkedInNewsLive