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{ Category Archives } Business and organization

Course Change

Conway’s Law

“Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” — Jargon File In the computer business, this is often stated as “if an organization with four groups designs a compiler, it will be a four-pass compiler.” Here’s an interesting observation: this is a necessary condition. […]

On the tenure of entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs, successful ones, are unusual people. They are driven, they take risks, they make snap decisions, they work closely — even intimately — with a small cohesive team of skillful people who they trust implicitly and who all have the eventual success of the endeavor as their primary goal. As the entrepreneurial organization grows, this […]

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work […]

Calling the Tune

If you want to understand the behavior of a person or group, look for what rewards that behavior. You will invariably find something, but i may be something unexpected. If you want to encourage a behavior in a person or group, find a way to reward it. If you want to discourage a behavior, decide […]

Evaluating Encryption

I’ve had an article published at CIO magazine. The title’s not mine and even seems to be the opposite of what I was saying, and I’m a little testy about it, frankly.

Multiplicity of Misfortune

If one customer reports a problem, many customers have that problem.

A General Theory of Idiocy

I’m not anti-business. I’m anti-idiot. — Scott Adams I’ve been working in information systems — a/k/a programming, software engineering, computer science, and a half dozen other things — for almost 40 years now. For a good part of that time, I’ve worked as a consultant. Consulting is interesting work. You always see a new company, […]

Observation on Consulting

Many times, what a consultant does is to find out what the client wants to know (how can we make widgets cheaper?) The consultant goes to the lowest levels involved, and asks the same question (Hi, widget-maker, how can we make widgets cheaper?) The consultant then takes the answers, collates them, puts them into a […]

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The SNAFU Principle

Back a good long while ago, I was closely involved with The Intelligence Community, which contrary to popular belief isn’t really named by opposites. It is, however, a massive multiple-agency bureaucracy with roots in all the individual services, the Justice Department, and the Executive branch of FDR and Harry Truman. (And yes, the actual administration […]