Re: Content Moratorium

Subject: Re: Content Moratorium
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 12:53:59 -0800 (PST)

I feel a disturbance in the force. I feeling I have not had since I was in the
presence of a former TECHWR-L member. :-)

> Someone wrote, "The engineers aren't going to stop improving the product so
> you can catch up." That's a fine expression of the gunslinging engineer's
> attitude, but it's not reflective of the reality of a growing, or grown-up,
> company. In the gunslinger's company:

That was me, but thanks for not singling me out.

The notion that there is some perfect line from code, to testing, to
documentation, to release is really nice - for a business plan or executive BS
session. In reality, even the "grown-up" firms can't maintain this down in the

For all the time I spent inside "mature" firms, I saw just as much chaos as
there was at tiny two-person startups. The only difference is that mature
companies have a better logo and more people babbling about the "plan",
"mission" and "market." Its just talk. They still can't install Office 2000.

Nobody is going to say "produce crap so you can make money." Its not that
simple. But let's be honest here. Do you honestly think the Vice President of
Making More Damn Money really cares that the docs were done in a frenzy at the
last moment?

No, he wants E-Week Magazine to write a story that says "Jim Swankenwhacker, VP
of Making More Damn Money at Industrial Mice Squashing, Inc. talks about their
latest product and how it leads the industry in features, power, speed, and
basic technical prowess." Do you really think Jim will mention that the
documentation was carefully planned out and used a nice, perfect, "mature"
process to get completed?

The issue here is - get the job done. Like it or not, product development (be
it technical or not) is an imperfect science. The paths from nothing to product
are not well paved superhighways. There are changes, confusions, mistakes,
errors, and undiscovered traps. If you don't make it to market ahead of the
competition, it won't matter whether you planned it all out or slapped it all
together at the last minute. You have to solve the problems quickly and on-the

In my experience, maturity is not synonymous with quality. Motorola is a very
mature company. They were also the primary backers behind the 20th century's
most costly disaster: Iridium. All that maturity didn't make people want to buy
$1500 phones at $4 a minute.

If I want to really understand a market, I look for the mid to small-cap
companies where people still give a damn and can get stuff done without a 7000
page plan from Lackcenture Consulting.

Do good work. But expect the unexpected. Business is a fluid, dynamic
environment. Those that can handle chaos and change survive and excel. Those
that don't - eat mice.

Andrew Plato
VP of All Things Small And Furry

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