Almost Perfect Hardcover – 1 Jan 1994
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A former executive at the WordPerfect Corporation details the company's rise in the computer industry and what compelled him to leave after ten years as a driving force in the company.
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He says "reliability was more important than price" (p.41). A word processor is a means to an end, not an end in itself. A $1500 product can be less costly than a $500 product that breaks down more, once you include the effect of losses.
Page 60 says the demise of word processing departments in the mid 1980s was unexpected. This happened to key-punch departments a decade earlier. Will Internet E-mail reduce the market for word processors in turn?
The problem of printer support in WP was solved by the use of tables; but this resulted in slower printing. Isn't it better to use separate executable modules for each printer family?
One very important item of their success was their evaluation of their product by consulting with the secretaries who used it. This is much better than an ad-hoc committee of non-users.
His evaluation of other companies (p.100) is interesting. Using a "lines of code" rule alone may result in bloated and redundant code, which can lead to higher maintenance, overhead, and support costs.
His story of the "free Hawaii trip" (pp.131-2) illustrates the difference between "goals" and "objectives". A fixed cash bonus is a goal, a Hawaii trip an objective.
In July 1991 Pete was informed that he "was too hard on people and too many people were afraid" of him. He seems to have ignored this warning. The stress of the delayed release may have been affecting a lot of people. If the VP of Development was giving lectures from a book, could this have caused the delay? Does this show a problem in a "flat management" philosophy? Is it correct for any large company? Can reading a book safeguard a company from Microsoft? Note that this clash of personalities did not occur when WP was profitable. "Victory has a thousand fathers", falling sales has a thousand finger pointers.
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