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NYTIMES: Motorola's new CEO is saving a fucked up company but we'll be polite.

There was no better proof of that than the jumble of chips, operating systems and other software used on the company’s phones. Companies like Nokia build phones around a handful of standard designs, but Motorola was starting fresh on nearly every handset.
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/how-sanjay-jha-overhauled-motorolas-culture/

In the 1980s when AT&T was no longer a monopoly they realized that they were starting every new phone design from scratch. A friend of mine suggested that they make one chipset and reuse it in every phone. A phone without a redial button? No, worries, use the same chipset but don't include the redial button. Alas, they couldn't change the culture. Eventually they just started buying cheap plastic shit from China and put the AT&T logo on it. The management would say things like, "Our company's real value is in our name" and that lead to people thinking, "We can take any crap, put our name on it, and people will be dumb enough to buy it." That lasted for, oh, a few years until they couldn't make anything good any more. Soon they eliminated their "consumer products" division as the world shifted manufacturing overseas.

This is what you get when you let the fuckheads from marketing, sales, and accounting take over a company instead of making engineers front and center.

When I got to work for a company, I ask where the IT department reports to. If it reports to the CEO or CTO, then I know IT is considered something important, something to invest in to make the company strong and efficient. If IT reports to the CFO then I know IT is considered "overhead" and will be pushed around, minimized, and doom the company to being defeated by competition that recognizes and values innovation inside the company and out.

I also ask where was the CEO (and previous CEO) before they became CEO. If they were previously the head of finance or marketing I know the company is doomed. If the CEO came from engineering then I know the company has a future and will make products, and invent new products, and have a life for many years to come.

Lucent's CEO didn't come from engineering. He pressured every division to have double-digit revenue growth even when it wasn't possible. So the divisions cut engineering to make their sagging sales look like xx% growing sales. Eventually they had no new products in their pipeline. Eventually they had no products anyone would buy. Everyone at the CxO level was shocked, shocked, shocked, that their competition had new products (WTF? did they think the competition was standing still?)

There are three things the U.S. needs to do if they want to become a leader in manufacturing and things that build a real economy: Force the schools that teach marketing, sales, finance and law to cut their enrollment by 80% for the next 15 years. Re-train every school teacher from K-12 on how to encourage kids to love science and groom them for a career in creativity and engineering. Lastly, I'm sick and fucking tired of hearing women say that as a girl they were discouraged from being interested in math and science. The people that do this need to be eliminated. In fact, it is time we ban the dealth penalty in cases where an engineer or parent killed someone that actively and knowingly discouraged a girl from being interested in science or math. I'm not saying it should be open hunting season, but I promise to look the other way. (I realize this may be a shock to most of you, considering that I'm a peace activist, but this kind of thing gets me emotional.)

The New York Times recently reported on a study that said that there are too many students entering engineering schools. What the fuck? What fucking accounting major turned education researcher wrote that fucking study? What team of fuckhead CFOs and CMOs funded that fucking study?

Too many engineers? Give me a fucking break. Maybe the problem is not enough good engineers, too many bad engineering managers and executives, and not enough good schools to fix these problems.

I'll end with another quote from this excellent article about Motorla:
Like many classic American industrial companies, Motorola used a hierarchical system that put a single executive in charge of each product or business area [...] This method gives executives no incentive to say their product line is on the decline and the technology used by a rival group will be the next big trend. Mr. Jha completely redesigned the Motorola organization chart using a model typical of technology companies. There are now central groups for engineering, marketing, product management and long-term product planning.


Wait... the new CEO redesigned the Motorola organization chart using a model typical of a technology company? Umm... Motorola wasn't thinking about itself as a technology company until 2008?

If a bakery got a new CEO who redesigned their org chart to be the model typical of a bakery wouldn't the journalist be allowed at least one sentence of sarcasm? If a book publisher got a new CEO who redesigned their org chart to be the model typical of a book publisher wouldn't the journalist be permitted at least one sarcastic "what the fuck???" line in the article?

My congrats to the New York Times for showing great restraint.

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When I was Wildfire's director of IT, I reported to the CFO, which was a little odd. But after a year, we came to a great arrangement. "The CFO doesn't understand what I do, and I don't understand what he does. Lets jhust let each other do what they do, and life will go on happily."

It was a great arrangement :)

This is what you get when you let the fuckheads from marketing, sales, and accounting take over a company instead of making engineers front and center.

Oh dear God no.

The engineer arrogance you're exhibiting is sadly typical. How many techie-led technology companies when under because the team built some cool-but-useless thing? How many were solutions in search of a problem? How many couldn't make clear how their product worked, or even what it did? How many treated their non-technical customers like shit?

Lots and lots and lots and lots, and you know it.

Companies whose power is lopsided in any way fall over. The same is true for design-centered companies that produce beautiful objects that don't work, or cost too much for their target market.

Techies have an illusion of control, supported by misleading data. I can make the foo chip flop NNN megaspitzaks per floom, compared to NNN-N for our competitors! Ha ha! I am as a god!

But it's the rare one who also has other skills necessary in a company, just as it's rare that a pure salesperson really understands the technology. Balance, thoughtfulness, power in combination -- these are the keys. And on top of it all, respect for other team members' skills. (That's what I see missing in your post, and why it pisses me off so much.)

I'm clearly not an engineer - I'm one of those marketing people, after all - but I begin to wonder if, perhaps, the engineer problem is indeed not "too many engineers", but "too many engineers who solve problems by rote". Or "too many engineers who are taught how to do things by formula instead of learning how to problem-solve".

Thinking about this and tgeller's comment, my experience has been that which side of the fence the CEO hails from is less important than that he or she understands both, and understands the importance of both.

Echoing others, remember how long it used to take the old Bell Labs-dominated AT&T to get a product to market? You complained about that yourself.

There are three things the U.S. needs to do if they want to become a leader in manufacturing and things that build a real economy: Force the schools that teach marketing, sales, finance and law to cut their enrollment by 80% for the next 15 years.
AIUI, the US still has manufacturing as a high proportion of its GDP.
Lastly, I'm sick and fucking tired of hearing women say that as a girl they were discouraged from being interested in math and science. The people that do this need to be eliminated.
The notion that women would study maths and science more if only we could root out the evildoer seems pretty simplistic to me.

I'm somewhat entertained by the fact that the person who helped dismantle Moto originally (Hector Ruiz) and subsequently led AMD down it's spectacular flame out and asstacular breakup, is now under investigation for insider trading from the whole AMD -> Global Foundaries fiasco.

He's stepping down from GF in January. I hope they nail him to the wall. Just desserts and all ...

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