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  • Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on January 4th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Cold Spring Shops:  Losing the Intellectual Tradition.  He cites Joy Pullman, who in turn quotes Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn:

    We’re living in a time as if some blight has come across the earth. Something fantastic, something deep, something old, something elevated, something high is basically being obliterated.

    Also from Cold Spring Shops:  Collaboration creates mediocrity.  I would rephrase this to say that collaboration can create mediocrity, especially when used as an unthinking buzzword and deployed as a pseudo-religion…after all, the purpose of basically all organizations is to allow people to collaborate, in various ways, to do what they could not do individually.  But shallow thoughts about collaboration and de-leveling and de-siloing and de-hierarchicalization are indeed in many cases detracting from the serious work that needs to be done on organizational design.

    At Politico: The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.  See also a response to this story from The DiploMad.

    Related, from Roger Simon:  Iran protests expose mainstream media as reationary, not liberal.

    Three from Sarah Hoyt:

    Childhood memories:  The things that stay

    The importance of feedback:  Breaking the Gears

    Of course they do:  When the Left bullies, they pose as anti-bullies

     

    12 Responses to “Worthwhile Reading”

    1. PenGun Says:

      Project Cassandra … no I don’t believe it. I guess the curse is still working. ;)

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      I have made a point that with cars, the truly memorable and iconic cars have always had one person behind them. Porsche 911 – ‘Butzi’ Porsche. Corvette – Zora Duntov. 300SL Mercedes – Rudi Uhlenhaut.

      Most Asian cars, with a few exceptions (like my 1st generation Toyota MR2), are designed by committee and to me look…..horrible. The original 240z was designed by the man who desined the BMW 507. Most mass market cars are designed by committee. They usually look to me……compromised.

      Look at the Italian exotics – Bertone or Pininfarina design studios and usually one person known behind designs that stand the test of decades.

      “Consensus is the negation of leadership”
      —Margaret Thatcher

    3. Grurray Says:

      Bill, that was the case with John DeLorean at GM. He was responsible for the GTO, shepherded the Firebird and Grand Prix, and developed what was to eventually become the Fiero. He had that rare combination creativity and acumen that only the best car guys possessed.

      Building on the momentum Knudsen had created, DeLorean led the division to its most successful year. A rock-music enthusiast, he developed a feeling for what young people wanted. “Automobiles are a fashion thing, like clothing,” he says. “And the people who set fashions are really the young people, people up to thirty-five.” He crafted his idea of what the young wanted into two fast specialty cars, the Firebird and the Grand Prix.

      As a perfectionist would, DeLorean preached quality with the fervor of an evangelist hounding sinners. In an unused warehouse at the division’s home plant in Pontiac, Michigan, he set up an inspection line where every new car was checked to ensure that it was flawless. Pontiac became known as just about the best-engineered car in the business. DeLorean tightened the pressure on the dealers, and sales leaped from 688,000 in 1964 to 877,000 in 1968, a record that still stands.

      He was shown the door when the crushing bureaucracy got to him and also when the Vega, GM’s lame attempt to compete with the VW Bug, was forced on him. In the end his personality/persona was just too big for the corporate structure. That is probably the case with most innovators.

    4. David Foster Says:

      Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea

      https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/the-axis-of-catastrophe/

    5. David Foster Says:

      Re the Collaboration link: Performance Standards and Groups

    6. Bill Brandt Says:

      On feedback reading that reminded me of the production model W. Edwards Deming that the Japanese embraced in the 50s and which was eschewed by the West for so long – it relies totally on feedback. Both from the factory floor and I believe customers.

      @Grurray: Truly independent thinkers in huge corporations are almost unheard of. I remember reading a book on the best run corporations, and IBM fostered a culture for what they called “Wild Ducks”.

      I think at GM John DeLorean will best be known for the GTO. And of course, building Pontiac into a powerhouse division.

      I forget how he snuck that by the GM bureaucracy but they had a limit on engine size to car size and he made an end run. And for what happened to Pontiac after the Roger Smith era was – well, ineptitude.

      Bob Lutz was of the same mold.

    7. PenGun Says:

      Cars. LOL. I am about to buy a new car. A 2017 Ford Fiesta and I’ll pay $230 a month.

      A person who is careful and has full Canadian pension, can do this. Now my overhead is low but still I am kinda amazed I could swing this.

      The cooler one with the 1 liter Ecoboost motor is very efficient and I have signed up with Uber, who should appear on my Island this year. I’ll do Amazon Flex as well when it shows up.

      So over 50 mpg Canadian and 1000k to a tank of gas is impressive. The power one can pull from this tiny thing is impressive too. It comes with 125hp and 145 ft/lbs and one can pull 145 hp with the stock turbo. The tuners say about 170hp is OK without better bits. At just over 1000kg it’s light as well.

      My Sammy gets a vintage plate and insurance which is cheap. A two car family now, well me and the cat. ;)

    8. Stephen Karlson Says:

      Thanks for the linkage.

    9. Anonymous Says:

      “He was responsible for the GTO, shepherded the Firebird and Grand Prix, and developed what was to eventually become the Fiero. He had that rare combination creativity and acumen that only the best car guys possessed.”

      On his own he designed and manufactured the Delorean sports car. It was ugly, slow and unreliable. He also designed a motor home with a handsome, sleek, and compact shape, but it was also underpowered and mechanically problematic.

      No doubt there was some marketing genius in him, but those GM Pontiac products were only mildly stylized Chevy’s, Oldsmobiles and Buicks. The difference between the makes was primarily a little sheet metal and promotion. Given the GM corporate rigidities he probably did all that was possible and pulled off a marketing victory. His independent ventures showed that he was weak in the practical mechanics of design.

      He should be saluted as man of vision, courage and energy. Pontiacs of that era command a following to this day based on the flourishes he incorporated.

      Death6

    10. Bill Brandt Says:

      No doubt there was some marketing genius in him, but those GM Pontiac products were only mildly stylized Chevy’s, Oldsmobiles and Buicks. The difference between the makes was primarily a little sheet metal and promotion. Given the GM corporate rigidities he probably did all that was possible and pulled off a marketing victory. His independent ventures showed that he was weak in the practical mechanics of design.

      during the tenure of Roger Smith the divisions became homogenized. through the 60s each division had their own engines, although they shared the turbohydramatic transmission. Through the 60s Pontiac was the performance division.

      Well, I’d say Chevy had their performance cars, too.

      sorry about the sporadic upper case. the left shift key of my unicomp keyboard is finally giving up the ghost. i think they make the best keyboard out there, having bought the rights from ibm.

    11. David Foster Says:

      When Drucker spent time at GM in the 1940s, he described an organization in which the divisions had their own manufacturing, as well as their own product development. I believe the dealer channels were brand-specific as well.

      This kind of organization may leave some ‘synergies’ on the table, but it also makes it much easier for an innovative division head to do something truly innovative.

    12. Grurray Says:

      On his own he designed and manufactured the Delorean sports car. It was ugly, slow and unreliable

      Sure you say that now, but just wait until it’s hot rodded up with 1.21 gigawatt flux capacitors…

      Just kidding. I know in our present day of steady, ceaseless output of computer/AI/cyber/crypto generated wonders, it’s easy to dismiss the endeavors of the past that fell short of their goal. Some things, though, need to be put into context. It’s not easy to make your own car. You could make a reasonable argument that, of any consumer product, producing a successful automobile is so difficult that it would be considered a holy grail-level accomplishment.

      Look at what they did to Preston Tucker. Elon Musk has the US Government as a silent partner, and he can’t even get production right.

      DeLorean was run out of Detroit. GM offered him a dealership in Florida because they figured that was the farthest they could push him away from them. Now just imagine you have to start over when your partner is Northern Ireland, and you have to buy your engines from France.

      Consider – everyone who cared knew small cars killed people. Nader had already been on this for a decade. Ford got their bean counters together and determined that it was still cost effective to kill Pinto drivers. What they lost in wrongful death suits they would just make up in margin.

      Not DeLorean. He was going to build something safe. Of course with all that stainless steel and dinky engine it handled like an actual bank safe, but he was on the right track.

      And remember something else. This was in the middle of the energy crisis. He had to build a fuel efficient vehicle as well. The world both demanded it and needed it.

      It also had to be cool. Really Italian style cool. That was critical.

      Basically the car had to be everything. Safe, ethical, and tremendously good looking. It was a bridge too far, but it had to be done. Where would we be without the guys who tried to cross that bridge first so that the rest of us could eventually make it to the opposing shore?

      In a perfect world, DeLorean would’ve taken over GM, and developed the Pontiac Banshee into that ultimate dream car. Everything the DMC-12 was supposed to be could’ve been, maybe should’ve been, with the right backing and production expertise.

      But we don’t live in that perfect world. Instead we have men like John DeLorean who push the envelope, shoot for the moon, flare out, but do indeed land amongst the stars.

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