Re: Process, not bureaucracy

Subject: Re: Process, not bureaucracy
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 17:44:24 -0500

I must take exception to Mr. Plato's assertion that efficiency is an
illusion. Not so. Here at Simply Written, we've proven that it's not an

We do conversion projects, generally with FrameMaker, and running into
thousands of pages. Here, if we can squeeze another page through the machine
within the same time period, we make more money, because we give either
per-page prices or total project prices. The more we can move without
sweating, the more money we make. And we've learned how to move a LOT of
pages. And lest it be thought that our "efficiency" is actually achieved
with chains and whips, we pay bonuses for pages-per-hour, and the production
people love it, especially when the efficiency is done with organization,
project planning, and FrameMaker automation, rather than just typing faster.

These projects are highly profitable for us, and are often money losers for
our competitors who smugly assume that they're easy to do. They're
profitable for us because of efficiencies. We're constantly working to
reduce slippage, and that permits us to convert more pages in less time than
our competitors, and often for equal or less cost. Believe me, this is not

I think Mr. Plato is himself somewhat dazzled by the urban myths of all
those high-tech companies that supposedly start, accelerate, and dominate on
genius. Those companies are often stock darlings, but poor investments in
the long run. To take his example of Jobs and Wozniak, Apple today, once the
poster child for high tech entrepreneurship, is now a struggling niche
company while dull, sedate Gateway sells more computers in a month than
Apple manages in half a year. Few of the glamorous e-companies are turning a
profit, or even have any prayer of turning a profit. Coca-Cola turns a
profit. Berkshire Hathaway turns a profit. does not.

The truth of the process model is that companies inevitably pass through the
first three phases as they grow, and if they live so long. No company can
endure with a level 1 approach, when the payroll lists more than two dozen
employees or so. At that point, most companies must cross to level 2. At
some hundred or higher, the company must begin instituting some company-wide
standards, which makes it a level 3. It's similar to the difference between
a human body and a bacterium. In the body of a bacterium, there's no time
lag of consequence getting chemical signals around the body. In a human,
getting informational signals to billions of cells requires efficient
organization. When a company grows into a multicellular organism, it has to
change its organizational structure.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

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