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The Cargo Cult of Business » Stupidity


Published on 5 Sep 2007 at 11:06 am | No Comments | Trackback
Filed under The Cargo Cults of Business, Manifest Masquerade, Pathetic Success, Brain Trust, One Corporation Under God, Business and Corporation Related, Main Stream Media, Public Relations and Marketing, Humor.

I was recently engaged by a small semiconductor company to re-write the rough draft of an article originally penned by a VP of Engineering. Fred, we’ll call him, was a grizzled veteran of our fair industry, and a long-time employee at "Production-Quality Semiconductors" - PQS for short. Fred’s article centered on the many tricky problems of assuring a supply of, well, production-quality parts. It is indeed a complex technical - and business - task.

Fred’s draft had been sent to an editor, who commented that it was disorganized and a bit jumbled, but had potential. If we would organize it better, and deal with one legal problem, they would use the article.

The article was indeed a bit disorganized - lots of good points, but it skipped around from A to B to C and then A again and then some D and a little B and - oh, this on A, and did I mention C? Well, that’s easy enough to fix. I did so, and then turned to the legal problem.

Some years ago, the leading maker of IC plastic-packaging compounds developed a new formulation of the black plastic used to package most ICs.  Said leading supplier of such materials has a well-earned reputation in the business. Their new formulation was intended to improve several key characteristics of packaging materials. Samples were sent to most of the leading semiconductor and packaging companies - Intel, Amkor, TI, NSC, etc. Tests were run - lots of tests. After several months of testing, the material was approved by all and went to production. Things were fine for awhile, but then quality problems appeared, and investigation showed the new material had a previously-unsuspected long-term issue, a new failure path not anticipated or tested for.


So, what’s the legal problem? The magazine editors felt that, since this was hearsay, it might be better to refer to said leading manufacturer as "a leading supplier of IC packaging materials" - why tangle with their legal department? While no one is accusing them of bad faith (or incompetence), it’s better to avoid these things, and anyway the point of the story is just as valid without the name. Everyone in the industry knows it’s ********.

Thus, I edited the article to take out specific names, but make the point anyway - reliability is tricky.

Our friend Fred at PQS ripped the whole article. We’d ruined his priceless prose - ruined the story - changed His Words! How could we???

Uhh, because we’re trained professionals who can write? And it’s what you pay us to do?

Fred wouldn’t approve the re-write. The article never ran. Me? I got paid, so I don’t really care, but in case you’re listening, Fred, the moral of the story is:

    If you hire an expert, listen to them. _Especially_ if you disagree!

-- Oliver
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