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Hardcover DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation Book

ISBN: 1576752259

ISBN13: 9781576752258

DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC tells the 40-year story of the creation, demise, and enduring legacy of one of the pioneering companies of the computer age. Digital Equipment Corporation created the minicomputer, networking, the concept of distributed computing, speech recognition, and other major innovations. It was the number two computer maker behind IBM. Yet it ultimately failed as a business and was sold to Compaq Corporation. What happened? Edgar...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A must read for anyone in a disrupted business today!

This reads better than any novel that you will pick up. A great place to learn Schein's concepts of organizational culture. This is a must read for anyone in or leading a business that is being disrupted such as newspaper, TV broadcast, music, stc.

A name dies, but the spirit thrives

When I started reading this book (the first two chapters) I was a little hesitant at reading further as it was a very ambiguous prep for the story. However, after I started chapter 3 I was excited to discover how inline Ken Olsen's views are with my own and my own experiences. I initially got this book in order to learn why a company fails and try and avoid the pitfalls that DEC encountered. As I read further into the book I found that the strengths of the culture were symbollic of humanity in general, and to discount the culture was to discount some of humanities most fundametal and essential attributes. Corporations as entities are setup to run in perpetuity; however, the most difficult obstacle to longevity is vitality. Many companies today that have been around for more than 40 years really don't offer much in the way humanitarian benefits. In other words, you're not going to work at a GE and expect to revolutionize anything. The immediate problem is that as corporations get more and more hardened their vitality is lost and the very culture that inspired them to be innovative disappears in favor of purely existing. How do you combat this? DEC's legacy is not the products that it produced, but the vitality that sprang-forth from people who sought something more and were empowered to reach their dreams. A company's true worth cannot be known until you see how many companies/ideas came out of it, not as spin-off's, but as inspired, elegant, and useful innovations/products that in-turn inspire others to reach their dreams. Overall the book does a good job of relating the facts of the ultimate rise and fall of DEC from a monetary perspective, but it does an even better job or relating how inspiration, motivation, and empowerment can truly create "magic" in both the past and in the present. The spirit of DEC lives on, indeed the spirit of America lives on...

iconic business story -- useful to all

this is one of the best business books i have read. it is super-relevant for anyone in high tech but is also recommended for any business person. schein combines narration with theory & analysis in telling the story of DEC's meteoric rise and eventual sale to Compaq. the book is a rare mix of story-telling and more "academic" theory about management, strategy and culture. what makes the book so exceptional, beyond schein's insights and storytelling, is the unprecedented access he had to DEC executives.

The lasting lesson of DEC

MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Edgar Schein does a marvelous job telling the story of the rise and fall of Digital Equipment Corporation, the former #2 computer maker in the world behind IBM. The business reasons behind DEC's economic failure have been widely reported (missing the advent of the PC, having too many projects going at once, failure to market products effectively, etc.) However, the big question to be answered is why did these failures occur? To quote one passage, "Why did an organization that was wildly successful for thirty-five years, filled with intelligent, articulate powerful engineers and managers, fail to act effectively to deal with problems that were highly visible to everyone, both inside and outside the organization?"Schein looks at DEC's failure through the lens of its corporate culture, and how it prohibited their executives from making the decisions, and taking the actions necessary to survive. Fans of Ed Schein will know his famous "Three Cultures of Management" paper, in which he describes the "Executive", "Line Manager" and "Engineering" cultures, all of which must exist and be balanced against one another for an organization to survive. Schein argues that DEC was dominated by the engineering culture, which valued innovation and "elegant" design, over profits and operational efficiency. This engineering culture dominated even the top levels of DEC, where proposals to build PCs out of off the shelf parts that were readily available in the marketplace, were shot down because the machines were thought to be junk compared to the ones DEC could build themselves. That DEC was able to survive for as long as it did was largely attributable to its ability to innovate in a field that was so new it had not yet coalesced around certain standard systems, software and networks. However, as the computer industry became in effect a commodity market, and the buyers began to value price over innovation, DEC found itself increasingly unable, and in fact, unwilling to compete. The engineering culture which valued innovation and required creative freedom, did not want to subject itself to the requirements of being a commodity player which demanded autocratic operational efficiency and control over how resources were allocated.Although DEC is now long gone, even readers who were too young to use computers at the time of its demise will find familiar truths in this book. As the old saying goes, the fish in the tank does not see the water it is in. Neither do we often see the cultures in which we are ourselves embedded. The real lesson of this wonderful book is to show us how our corporate cultures often prohibit us from doing the right things, even when we can see them clearly. Sometimes culture is most easily visible in the things you need to discuss, but that are simply "not on the table" for discussion. There are many lessons here too, for companies that seek to innovate new products and services, and how to ba

Outstanding work!

I am not certain as to how much of the previous reviewer's comments could be ascribed to a personal disagreement with Dr. Schein's book, but I found it to be a well-researched and soundly presented piece of writing documenting the rise and fall of one of the greatest innovators in the technology industry. In much of this research, the author has had to gain insights from others associated with DEC, and as such, views differ. In almost all of the cases, the author has clearly indicated that what he is presenting are the thoughts and experiences of others (in tandem with his own sentiments from his tenure at DEC). As such, viewpoints will always differ. In my opinion, this is a solid piece of writing that is insightful, thorough, and very well researched - and a damned fine read.
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