Traditionally, a new year begins with solemn resolutions to do this, become that, or get such and such. In business, the fresh calendar often coincides with the start of a new budget. Unlike personal vows, which more likely than not are conceived late on December 31 and very possibly under the influence, the plans of […]
Traditionally, a new year begins with solemn resolutions to do this, become that, or get such and such. In business, the fresh calendar often coincides with the start of a new budget. Unlike personal vows, which more likely than not are conceived late on December 31 and very possibly under the influence, the plans of an organisation may take as long to formulate as they do to execute. This does not necessarily make the promises of business any easier to fulfill. One important measure of a person or organisation is its resolve. Another, often more telling characteristic is perseverance when things go awry. There are many reasons why coping skills fail in the face of the unexpected. And for every good reason there are a million excuses. If there is one prominent cause of an individual or organisation going into crisis in the wake of ordinary frustration and disappointment, it is self-delusion. For the most part, kidding one’s self doesn’t begin with a conscious effort. Rather, it starts with a garden variety error in judgement and grows from there. It thrives in the fertile soil of hubris.
It blossoms every time one fails to admit events have taken an unforeseen turn or that the conditions that exist differ from those one wished for or anticipated. Eventually, though, it’s time to ‘fess up. When hopes, plans and dreams cannot be realised, only a fresh beginning will do. This requires the sincere performance of an act that is easy enough before one is in trouble but damned difficult once problems have grown to menacing size. That act is called, in Yiddish, talking tachlis. Talking tachlis means looking at the bottom line, getting down to basics. While known to the Maccabees – a sensible if overly goal-directed tribe of years past – talking tachlis seems to be a lost art among the crowd running things today, the Wannabees. In corporate life, an avowal of failure is all too often a career-limiting gesture. Ambition si, admission no.
By Hesh Wiener
Post-industrial society has reached a truly appalling state. It’s no longer what you do that counts. It’s how you look doing it. The inevitable result is a world in which positions of inestimable power are occupied by idiots with great aplomb. Now please don’t get us wrong. We like nice guys as much as the next person. We want to see them get ahead. But we just can’t persuade ourselves that fooling people is the right thing, even if it’s done in a pleasant manner. Or even when the dissembler has persuaded himself that he is in fact telling the truth as he sees it at the time. Listening to a charming, articulate horsefeathers artist just makes us want to say, loudly and impertinently, Hey, cut that out! This new year, 1990, is destined for the Guinness Book. A record number of people will be forced by circumstances not beyond their control to talk tachlis. Chief among them in our estimation will be IBM’s executives, who will be joined in this sober-minded exercise by some of their best customers. The process will be quite amusing, for it will not only involve getting down to brass tacks collectively, but individually, too. The cold, hard facts are different for each IBM product line, and for each customer’s situation as well. It would be unfair of us to say that the 3090-J is not a new machine, except for the facts. It’s a recast 3090-S, which is a recast 3090-E. And if IBM adds some more window dressing in the form of a feature or two, that will hardly make it a different system. It’s not necessarily bad that IBM is selling mainframe customers yet another 3090. The bottom line – whether the user should move to a J – may have little to do with a new generation or another set of model designations. Customers want more bang for the buck, however they can get it. If the 3090-J offers it, that’s good enough. But wait a minute. Hold the phone. IBM has got to be working on a long-overdue next generation of large systems. These machines will sock it to the values of earlier mainframes. So how could anyone be relaxed about investing in today’s IBM iron?
e customer wants is not only lower cost per MIPS, but also lower cost per transaction. If the user moves to a faster machine and MVS/ESA, and then finds that the system software eats more computing power than the new hardware brings to the table, where’s the advantage? Is it really wise for IBM to prove to the customer that pain is a necessary but not sufficient condition for gain? If customers want to stay with the Byzantine systems they’re used to, we’re sympathetic. But when computers can no longer give user companies enough extra productivity to cover their direct costs – let alone help offset inefficiencies elsewhere in an enterprise – our heart also goes out to the other people affected. These victims of the mainframe include user’s general managers and the shareholders at whose sufferance they serve. C’mon, folks. You’re all in this together. How about an end to the conspiracy of silence that makes every interested party – vendor, user, financing company look worse every day? Maybe IBM should acquire Tandem. Maybe we should all be patient and in a couple of years get Tandem to acquire IBM. Actually, we’ll settle for IBM stealing all Tandem’s good ideas as fast as it can. This leads us to New Year’s Talking Tachlis Prediction Numbers One to Five – but they will have to wait for another issue. (C) 1989 Technology News of America