Re: Death Spirals

Subject: Re: Death Spirals
From: Romay Jean Sitze <rositze -at- NMSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 18:22:04 -0700

In the Jan-Feb issue of _Success_ there is an article about the theories
of Eliyahu Goldratt who casts some interesting insights on the downward
spiral Richard describes below. Eli seems to be saying that too many
companies lose sight of the big picture in their concern for "efficient"
production cycles. To succeed, the bottom line must take into
consideration how well the completed product meets the customers needs.
If those needs are neglected, profits will suffer and the downward spiral
is fueled.

This is exactly what I see as underlying Richards observations about his
former company backing off on maintenance of good documentation. As a
customer, my choice between two products of roughly equal worth will
always be influenced by how well the product is supported, and that
includes documentation when appropriate. As a writer or businessperson,
why should we expect others to accept less?

Richard Lippincott wrote:

> This is inspired by Tara Scanlon's posting:

> > Suppose your new company president decided that
> > you need to reduce the amount of information
> > (documentation and online help) your company
> > produces by 80% in the next year. He's not looking to cut
> > people, just words.

> At my last employer, we got into a cycle that started off with the managers
> deciding to turn down customer requests for updated manuals. "Insufficient
> personnel" was the reason. We were told, of course, not to worry about our
> jobs.

> Then, suddenly, there were staffing cuts. "Not enough revenue to justify the
> headcount" was given as the reason. There was another round of work turned
> away due to "insufficient personnel", then another round of cuts due to "not
> enough revenue...", and so forth.

> The department went from about 100 people in 1980 to a current staffing of
> about 25, and the cuts are not over yet. (I lasted until mid '93)

> I hate to put scary thoughts in anyone's head, but when I hear words like
> Tara's, my stomach churns.

> Rick Lippincott
> Eaton Semiconductor
> Beverly, MA
> rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com

RoMay Sitze, rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu

You can't solve a problem unless you first admit you have one.
--Harvey Mackay in _Swim with the Sharks_

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