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Introduction

This is a summary of Rick Catell's talk. You can watch in on-line (or download t
o your hard-drive and watch off-line as I did) thanks to the Universal Library p
roject.
Rick is a Distinguished Engineer at Sun with years of experience behind his belt
and in this talk he shares his experience. My comments are in italic.
What does Rick wish he learned in Engineering School
Focus. Don't try to do everything yourself. Example: Xerox PARC tried to build e
verything from ground up: hardware, OS, software. Same with SGI.
1% of leaders are responsible for most success. Good leaders need to have:
market vision
technical vision
drive, so that they can get things done
leadership
A simple math tells us that a number of people that have all those skills develo
ped above average is very small. Lesson: pick your leaders wisely.
Suboptimal decision is better than no decision.
Trust in an organization is inversely proportional to distance. That e.g. explai
ns why everyone went to develop their own versions of Unix (Irix, AIX, Solaris,
HP-UX etc.) even though it was in their best interest to cooperate - the couldn'
t get to trust each other that co-operatively developed version would fill their
needs.
Engineers follow the leader. An example of a project where everyone was moved ex
cept the leader - soon all the engineers resigned from the project.
Organizations are self-preserving. The book "Survival is not enough" talks more
about this. Successfull organizations resist change because they have a winning
strategy. The danger is that they are likely to miss the next winning strategy.
You needs more pigs than chickens (committed people vs. just participants). The
analogy comes from ham & eggs breakfast: pig is committed, chicken just particip
ates.
Most research and startups won't succeed.
Innovation will happen elsewhere - no matter how big you are, you can't hire all
the smart people in the industry.
You have to sell your ideas.
Don't base a risky project on another risky one.
Know your customer, eat your own dogfood.
Being first is more important than being best (from the book "The 22 immutable l
aws of marketing".) Some people think different. Allan Cooper and Jakob Nielsen
say that it's more important to have a good product later than bad product right
now and debunk the "first mover" advantage. Maybe it's about finding the proper
balance?
Catch the wave of new markets and technology. If you catch the wave you might en
d up very well off even if you make tons of mistake (Internet Bubble, anyone?).
But a new wave doesn't happen often.
Physics overcome fine print. Natural tendencies will take over the relationship
regardless of the arrangements you might make.
Beware success-blindness - don't just stay fat & happy. Mainframe makers missed
the micro-compter revolution.
Focus on the achievable, not impossible or inevitable.
Carrier advice: prioritize tasks every day, week year. Also:
focus on relevant
figure out what not to do (time is the most precious commodity)
Figure out what you want and how to get there. Make plans but allow them to chan
ge.
Don't get too good at things you don't like to do. From the book "Your money or
your life": most people said that they wouldn't be doing what they do if they di
dn't have to worry about money.
Figure out ways to be more productive. If you do something often - take time to
figure out ways to do it faster e.g. learn touch-typing if you have to type a lo
t.
Learn writing, speaking, negotiation and business skills.
Do the right thing, not the corporate thing.
Books he recommends:
"Competing on Internet time: Lessons from Netscape and its battle with Microsoft"
- a book about Netscape.
"Microsoft secrets" - a book on Microsoft.
"The 22 immutable laws of marketing" - a book on marketing
"Dealers of lightning" - a book about famous Xerox PARC research center that is c
redited with inventing a lot of things that made other companies rich (personal
computers, GUI interface, mouse).
"Information rules"
"The Silicon Valley way"