Hmm Warren Buffet loaned this to Gates and he still has it – it must be really awesome!
WSJ: Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters and show how things went for them.
In one called “The Impacted Philosophers,” he uses a case of price-fixing at General Electric GE +1.34% to explore miscommunication—sometimes intentional miscommunication—up and down the corporate ladder. It was, he writes, “a breakdown in intramural communication so drastic as to make the building of the Tower of Babel seem a triumph of organizational rapport.”
In “The Fate of the Edsel,” he refutes the popular explanations for why Ford’s flagship car was such a historic flop. It wasn’t because the car was overly poll-tested; it was because Ford’s executives only pretended to be acting on what the polls said. “Although the Edsel was supposed to be advertised, and otherwise promoted, strictly on the basis of preferences expressed in polls, some old-fashioned snake-oil selling methods, intuitive rather than scientific, crept in.” It certainly didn’t help that the first Edsels “were delivered with oil leaks, sticking hoods, trunks that wouldn’t open and push buttons that…couldn’t be budged with a hammer.”
One of Brooks’s most instructive stories is “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox.” (The headline alone belongs in the Journalism Hall of Fame.) The example of Xerox is one that everyone in the tech industry should study. Starting in the early ’70s, Xerox funded a huge amount of R&D that wasn’t directly related to copiers, including research that led to Ethernet networks and the first graphical user interface (the look you know today as Windows or OS X).
But because Xerox executives didn’t think these ideas fit their core business, they chose not to turn them into marketable products. Others stepped in and went to market with products based on the research that Xerox had done. Both Apple and Microsoft, MSFT +0.97% for example, drew on Xerox’s work on graphical user interfaces.