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DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Juli 2003

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"DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC" tells the 40-year story of the creation and demise of one of the pioneering companies of the computer age, and explains in detail how a particular culture can become so embedded that the organization is unable to adapt to changing circumstances even though it sees the need very clearly. It shows how the evolution of technology, organization and culture intertwine into a complex system that may leave the organization unable to cope. It shows clearly the price of success and growth and the potential problems that organizational maturity creates. Edgar Schein is one of the last giants left of the original founders of the Organization Development field - he is also a widely respected scholar and a bestselling author. This title shows how the unique culture of DEC was responsible both for its early rise and for its ultimate downfall - a real-life classical tragedy.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Edgar H. Schein is currently Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus at the Sloan School. He is also the Founding Editor of Reflections, the Journal of the Society for Organizational Learning devoted to connecting academics, consultants, and practitioners around the issues of knowledge creation, dissemination and utilization.


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Format: Taschenbuch
Professor Schein has written a helpful case history of Digital Equipment Corporation as a computer industry innovator from the perspective of its organizational culture. He draws successfully on his own direct observations during decades of consulting work, and involves others for their experiences as well in describing the organizational culture. The most helpful parts are in the form of notes and comments that occurred during the rise and fall of DEC. His main weakness as an observer is that he lumps too much of what was missing from DEC under his continuing references to the "business gene." The case history, as a result, is too light on other aspects of DEC.

Anyone who is interested in Professor Clayton Christensen's work on sustaining innovation will find deeper insights into why cultures encourage innovation failure by emphasizing one way of working on issues.

If you just want to understand the lessons of why DEC was ultimately unsuccessful as an enterprise, you only need to read Gordon Bell's postscript in appendix e. Like every other computer company at the time, DEC and its leaders did not have an actionable understanding of the implications of the ongoing productivity advances in semiconductors and how nonengineers liked to interact with computers. Our firm did consulting for another computer maker in 1978 to look at how to outperform DEC, and the vulnerability to semiconductor trends was clear then . . . even before the personal computer became important.

The book fails to explain why DEC was so insulated from profit disciplines that drive so many other companies. During its heyday, DEC and its fellow computer makers enjoyed exceptionally high rates of repeat sales (well over 90%) to the same customers.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 von 5 Sternen 20 Rezensionen
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A very good book much better than the others I have read. A little slow and gives technology a short shrift. 12. Dezember 2013
Von G. Robinson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
This is a some times draggy book but does explain the factors that led to DEC's demise. The balkanization into fiefdoms is well explained. We had VAX 3100 workstations and VAX 3800 computers. They worked great but by the mid '80s were underpowered. A new RFP was issued and DEC bid the 8600; great but overkill. I wound up working on the GE Aerospace Division Terminal Working Group (we were responsible for promoting new technologies as well as evaluating which to adopt). The VT180/278 basically shoved a Z80 with CPM or added PDP8, not a good try. None of the DEC attempts at a PC were cost effective or viable. Although Health Kit sold a kit version of the PDP11 at a reasonable price--if you didn't need software. Then in the '90 they came out with a version of VMS for the Intel 486 with full functionality. We ordered 20,000 copies with a follow on of up to 1M copies. We were told that we could not get it as Ken Olsen torpedoed the project. That could have saved DEC. We were not the only customer with strong interest and I would estimate that DEC could have sold several 50M copies.

Aside from the odd omissions by the author (DEC's PDP10/20 large scale computers are barely mentioned) and no mention of VMS on the VAX this is a great book and research resource on DEC. As for why the VMS on Intel was torpedoed it's not clear but Ken may have gotten the blame for what others did. Certainly it was a disruptive technology that would have killed off most of DEC's computer lines fairly quickly. But DEC could have supplanted MS!

DEC pioneered a lot of things that have led to the cloud computing today.
4.0 von 5 Sternen Engineering and Marketing 18. Oktober 2013
Von Kindle Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
As a 17 year veteran of digital equipment corporation, I enjoy reliving our perennial discussions (arguments). I wonder at the ability of Ken Olsen to inspire by empowerment. I also wonder at the depth of the final fall from profitability. The questions are raised, but not completely answered by this book.
19 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Needed to be written, needs to be read 31. Januar 2005
Von Bryan MacKinnon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I recommend this book to anyone who is familiar with DEC or wishes to understand its enduring legacies. It is also a useful case study on who a company that was doing so well could ultimately fail; are Microsoft and IBM really immune from this fate?

I used DEC equipment during its heyday from the late 1970's throughout the 1980s. What I value most is how the technical experiences I recall from that time were given depth. The author's narrative binds together a collection of internal memos and personal recollections of many of those who were working at DEC when many of its fateful decisions were made. In general, responsibility for the ultimate failure of DEC to survive as a company is laid with the senior management, in particular with CEO Ken Olsen. The same attributes that made DEC great and innovative were the ones that lead to its downfall. Alas, DEC is not dead but lives on in all the innovations it introduced.

I would like liked to have seen some more details on the technical innovations and more exposure to the myths and legends that many of us were weaned on. But that was not the main thesis of the book so it's not a deficiency per se.

Though written in a straightforward and matter of fact way with little flourish, I was engrossed and quickly polished it off. This book needed to be written.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen how [not] to run a knowledge organization 31. Mai 2008
Von Dion Dock - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
We hear a lot about "knowledge workers" and innovation. So how does one run an innovative business based on knowledge workers? DEC did this for about 30 years, before being bought by Compaq. The title means the company is gone, but it's values live on via its employees.

The author was a consultant that worked with the executive management for a number of years. His thesis is that the policies that helped the company create rapid growth ultimately failed to help it when the market changed (e.g. the PC appeared). Further, the company's culture (and that's a popular phrase in this book) had genes for innovation, individualism, engineering and technology but lacked a "money gene" required to make a viable business.

When DEC was growing, it was OK to have multiple projects tackling the same problem. However, as growth slowed, the funds didn't exist but the company had no mechanism for pulling the plug.

So go out and read it, and decide for yourself whether this is going to apply to Google.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen a sad tale of what might have beens 10. Juli 2006
Von W Boudville - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
One of the first computers I worked on was a Dec-10. I also used one of the PDPs. Then I later was sysadmin and wrote Fortran code for a Vax 785. So I was rather nostalgaic over DEC's demise. This would have seemed inconceivable in the mid 80s, when DEC was at its height, and second only to IBM. But Schein's analysis points out that the seeds of DEC's fall were already flourishing at its apex.

One merit of the book is how it points out that it was not just Ken Olsen who made all the bad decisions. Notably that the "PC was just a toy". It was also the rest of the top management. Worsened by a complex matrix management structure. This had the effect of drastically slowing decision making.

The book is a sad tale of what might have beens. For instance, it is well known how DEC missed the PC revolution. But it also dropped the ball on networking. DEC came up with DECNET by 1984. It had many very capable network engineers. But DEC's routers and switches were only for DECNET. DEC could have been DEC+Cisco, if it had migrated aggressively to the Arpanet/Internet. Sure, it had some presence in the latter. But not enough. It kept pushing its DECNET and in the end the Internet just drove DECNET into irrelevance.
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