close this bookVolume 2: No. 28
View the documentNews -- politics
View the documentNews -- economy
View the documentNews -- graphics
View the documentNews -- computer industry
View the documentNews -- OCR; handwriting recognition
View the documentNews -- job opportunities
View the documentDiscussion -- software careers

Hughes Aircraft Co. will lay off 15% of its workforce over 18 months due to Pentagon cuts. Many cuts will be supervisors and managers, including half of the 1,050 corporate staff in Los Angeles. The LA area has lost a third of its aerospace employment in the last six years. High-tech defense work in Silicon Valley is less likely to be cut. [SJM, 7/1.]

The day of U.S. corporate conglomerates may be gone. Mid-size firms are doing relatively well, but "the Fortune 500 is over" according to Peter Drucker. The late Bill McGowan of MCI said, of the difficulty in managing large empires, "The chump-to-champ- to-chump cycle used to be three generations. Now it's five years." [Tom Peters, SJM, 7/6.]

IBM's Jim Cannavino is one of the few people to make it to the top without a college degree. He's in charge of IBM's new PC Division, which has groups for PCs, workstations, and software. IBM had early success with an "entrepreneurial" PC group headed by Don Estridge, but "it was only a matter of time before IBM's big brass stepped in and tried to institutionalize this product and the division behind it. ... [By 1986,] the bureaucracy had crept into this division and sapped much of the life out of it. They made decisions by committee and people were working together on single projects out of five or six sites, making it very difficult to get anything done." The new division may do better, as it's supposed to be independent -- but is fighting to reduce the 5% overhead that it has to pay IBM. [Tim Bajarin, CC, 6/16.]

Tom Peters wants it both ways. He advocates "thriving on chaos" and tossing as many products as possible into the marketplace to see what succeeds. Now he's also advocating long-term research and unhurried product development. Creativity comes in spurts, through dedication to practice and improvement. It takes ten years to master any important field and establish a position of authority. You can't reach the next plateau of mastery unless you accept the inefficiency of careful reevaluation. Companies should have someone on staff who spends a decade developing the next important product; otherwise we just get 64 new varieties of pizza sauce each year (as we did in 1991). [SJM, 6/29.]

NEC Research Institute Inc. (Princeton, NJ) encourages scientists to take the long view. It's like a university, with a five-member board of scientists to allocate project funds. Daizaburo Shinoda is acting president, following the May death at age 61 of Dawon Kahng. Hitachi, Toshiba, Sony, Shisedo, and others have also set up labs to strengthen their basic research. Computer scientist Michael Harrison says that the NEC lab is now the only corporate lab "devoted to unrestricted, undirected research in the U.S." The budget is $26M, but planned staff increases have been postponed due to a 43% drop in NEC's income last year. [Joseph Weber, BW, 7/13.]