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The Art of High-Technology


Group 8: Harsh Faujdar

Lakshay Idiwal
Rittik Mondal
Sachit Aggrawal
Ujjwal Porwal


Technology has been changing rapidly and over the last 15 years its
advancement has been manifold
US since beginning has been leading the industrialized world because of its
ability to organize and manage technological developments
Now the situation has changed drastically and the gap of technological
advancement between America and rest of world is shortening especially
Japan and European countries
Some US companies have successfully showed their excellence to the rest of
the world and these firms are included on the lists of Americas best-managed


In Search of Excellence, an international bestselling book, by Tom Peters

and Robert H. Waterman, Jr., judged 43 companies for the excellency and
found almost half of it to be containing a High-technological component.

It could be seen that high technological firms are the most admired firms in
US. For ex: Google, Fb, IBM etc.

The above studies further strengthens our conclusion that US technology

firms that are looking to improve their management practices need not to
look overseas but could adopt some of the policies of their own successful
high-technology firms.


In this study the authors and their assistants have interviewed several
CEOs, executives over the past two decades and interacted
formally/informally with them to know about the strategies, policies,
practices, and decisions that they have taken for successful management
of their high-technology firms

The authors have found the primary aspect of successful management is

the strong leadership and vision that drives the organizations but not
necessarily leadership would be required in every organization for its


They all had common thread which is pretty obvious that is rapid changing
environment of technology and its effects on their products

With advancement, the old capital base was of no use so new design and
manufacturing processes had to be designed in such rapid changing

Thats why the two important aspect of companies management studies

were focused on: change and growth

Six Themes of Success

The research finding were then grouped into six themes:

Business Focus Adaptability

Organizational Cohesion

Entrepreneurial Culture

Sense of Integrity

Hands-on" Top Management

Business Focus

Even a superficial analysis of the most successful high-technology firms

leads one to conclude that they are highly focused.

For example, IBM, Boeing, Intel, and Genentech confine themselves

almost entirely to computer products, commercial aircraft, integrated
circuits, and genetic engineering, respectively. Similarly, four-fifths of
Kodak's and Xerox's sales come from photographic products and
duplicating machines, respectively.

In general, the smaller the company, the more highly focused it is.
Tandon concentrates on disk drives; Tandem on high-reliability
computers; Analog Devices on linear integrated circuits; and Cul-linet on
software products

Closely Related Products

This extraordinary concentration does not stop with the dominant product line.
When the company grows and establishes a secondary product line, it is usually
closely related to the first.

Hewlett-Packard, for instance, has two product families, each of which accounts for
about half of its sales. Both families electronic instruments and data processors
are focused on the same technical, scientific, and process control markets

IBM also makes two closely related product lines data processors (approximately
80 percent of sales) and office equipment both of which emphasize the business

Companies that took the opposite path have not fared well. Two of yesterday's
technological leaders, ITT and RCA, have paid dearly for diversifying away from
their strengths. Today, both firms are trying to divest many of what were once
highly touted acquisitions.

A communications firm that became the world's largest conglomerate, ITT began to
slip in the early 1970s after an acquisition wave orchestrated by Harold

Focused R&D

Another policy that strengthens the focus of leading high-technology

firms is concentrating R&D on one or two areas. Such a strategy enables
these businesses to dominate the research, particularly the more risky,
leading edge explorations. By spending a higher proportion of their sales
dollars on R&D than their competitors do, or through their sheer size (as
in the case of IBM, Kodak, and Xerox), such companies maintain their
technological leadership.

Moreover, their commitment to R&D is both enduring and consistent. It is

maintained through slack periods and recessions because it is believed to
be in the best, long-term interest of the stockholders.

Consistent Priorities

Another way that a company demonstrates a strong business focus is through a

set of priorities and a pattern of behavior that is continually reinforced by top
management: for example, planned manufacturing improvement at Texas
Instruments (TI); customer service at IBM.

A business focus that is maintained over extended periods of time has

fundamental consequences. By concentrating on what it does well, a company
develops an intimate knowledge of its markets, competitors, technologies,
employees, and of the future needs and opportunities of its customers.


Successful firms balance a well-defined business focus with the

willingness, and the will, to undertake major and rapid change when
necessary. Concentration, in short, does not mean stagnation. Immobility
is the most dangerous behavioral pattern a high-technology firm can
develop: technology can change rapidly, and with it the markets and
customers served.

The cost of strategic stagnation can be great, as General Radio (GR)

found out. Once the proud leader of the electronic instruments business,
GR almost single-handedly created many sectors of the market. Now all
that remains of GR's once dominant instruments line, which is less than
10 percent of sales, is a small assembly area where a handful of
technicians assemble batches of the old instruments.


The GenRad story is a classic example of a firm making a strategic change

because it perceived that its existing strategy was not working. But even
successful high-technology firms sometimes feel the need to be rejuvenated
periodically to avoid technological stagnation. In the mid-1960s, for example,
IBM appeared to have little reason for major change.

During the same period, GM, whose dominance of the U.S. auto industry
approached IBM's dominance of the computer mainframe industry, stoutly
resisted such a rejuvenation. Instead, it became more and more centralized and
inflexible.Yet, GM was also once a high-technology company. In its early days
when Alfred P. Sloan ran the company, engines were viewed as high-technology

Organisation Cohesion

The key to success for a high-tech firm is not simply periodic renewal. There must also be
cooperation in the translation of new ideas into new products and processes.

Younger people in a rapidly evolving technological field are often as good and
sometimes even better a source of new ideas as are older ones. In some high-tech
firms, in fact, the notion of a "halflife of knowledge" is used; that is, the amount of time
that has to elapse before half of what one knows is obsolete.

A source of division, and one which distracts the attention of people from the needs of the
firm to their own needs, are the executive "perks" that are found in many mature
organizations: pretentious job titles, separate dining rooms and restrooms for executives,
larger and more luxurious offices all tend to establish "distance" between managers and
doers and substitute artificial goals for the crucial real ones of creating successful new
products and customers.

Good Communication

One way to combat the development of such distance is by making top executives more visible
and accessible. IBM, for instance, has an open-door policy that encourages managers at different
levels of the organization to talk to department heads and vice-presidents.

This emphasis on communication is not restricted to internal operations. Such a firm supports and
often sponsors industry-wide technical conferences, sabbaticals for staff members, and
cooperative projects with technical universities.

Again, a strategic business focus contributes to organizational cohesion. Managers of firms that
have a strong theme or culture and that concentrate on closely related markets and technologies
generally display a sophisticated understanding of their businesses.

Job Rotation

A policy of conscious job rotation also facilitates this sense of communal-ity. In

the small firm, everyone is involved in everyone else's job: specialization
tends to creep in as size increases and boundary lines between functions
appear. If left unchecked, these boundaries can become rigid and
impermeable. Rotating managers in temporary assignments across these
boundaries helps keep the lines fluid and informal, however. They are allowed
to return to their usual posts only after that unit's operations manager is
convinced that the process is working properly.

Integration Of Roles

Other ways that high-tech companies try to prevent organizational, and

particularly hierarchical, barriers from rising is through multidisciplinary
project teams, "special venture groups," and matrix like organizational
structures. Such structures, which require functional specialists and
product/market managers to interact in a variety of relatively short-term
problem-solving assignments, both inject a certain ambiguity into
organizational relationships and require each individual to play a variety of
organizational roles.

For example, AT&T uses a combination of organizational and physical

mechanisms to promote integration.

Long Term Employment

Long-term employment and intensive training are also important integrative

mechanisms. Managers and technologists are more likely to develop
satisfactory working relationships if they know they will be harnessed to each
other for a good part of their working lives. Moreover, their loyalty and
commitment to the firm is increased if they know the firm is continuously
investing in upgrading their capabilities.

Entrepreneurial Culture

One of the most important characteristics of a successful high-technology firm is an entrepreneurial culture.
The success of Apple 2, which created a new industry and Genentechs genetically engineered insulin are
examples of this genre.

One of the main characteristics is that the companys technical people are in continuous contact and thus
understand and appreciate the difficulties and challenges of each other.

Key decisions can be made immediately by the people who first recognize a problem and not by top
management who barely understands the problem.

The concentration of power in the leader makes it possible to deploy the firms resources very rapidly and
also the small firm will have access to multiple funding channels unlike a project in a large firm whose only
source is the corporate bank.

In order to re-create the entrepreneurial climate of the small firm, successful large high technology firms
often employ a variety of organizational devices and personnel policies.

Entrepreneurial Culture

Such high-tech firms employ a variety of funding channels to encourage risk

taking. Managers also have three choices they can request fund from which are

1) Their own division, 2) corporate R&D and 3) the new ventures division.

Their willingness to allow a variety of funding channels has an important

consequence which is, it encourages the pursuit of alternative technological
approaches, particularly during the early stages of a technologys development.

The successful high technological firms tend to be very tolerant to technological

failure. Also, these firms provide ample time to pursue speculative projects. For
eg- IBM technical fellows are given up to five years to work on projects of their
own choosing , from high speed memories to astronomy.

Sense of Integrity

The firms view themselves as part of an enduring community that includes

employees, stackholders, customers, suppliers etc and their objective is to maintain
stable associations with all these interest groups.

Honesty, fairness and openness are not sacrificed for short term gains. Such
companies dont knowingly promise what they cant deliver to customers,
stockholders or employees.

Technological changes can be rapid, hence uncertainty is high, risks are difficult to
access and market opportunities and profits are hard to predict.

At IBM, the principle is people must be free to disagree and to be heard. Similarly at
HP, there is an extraordinary blend of strength and humility. Successful high tech
companies are able to reconcile their dream with what they can realistically achieve.

Hands-on Top Management

Not withstanding their deep sense of respect and trust for individuals, CEOs of
successful high-technology firms are usually actively involved in the innovation
process to such an extent that they are sometimes accused of meddling. Tom
McAvoy, Coming's president, sifts through hundreds of project proposals each year
trying to identify those that can have a "significant strategic impact on the company"
the potential to restructure the company's business.
Not surprisingly, most of these projects deal with new technologies. For one or two of
the most salient ones, he adopts the role of "field general": he frequently visits the
line operations, receives direct updates from those working on the project, and
assures himself that the required resources are being provided.

Hands-on Top Management

This depth of understanding is difficult enough to achieve for one set of

related technologies and markets; it is virtually impossible for one person to
master many different sets. This is another reason why business focus appears
to be so important in high-tech firms. It matters little if one or more perceptive
scientists or technologists foresees the impact of new technologies on the
firm's markets, if its top management doesn't internalize these risks and make
the major changes in organization and resource allocation that are usually
necessitated by a technological transition.

The Paradox of High-Technology

The fundamental tension is between order and disorder. Half of the success
factors pull in one direction; the other half tug the other way. This paradox has
frustrated many academicians who seek to identify rational processes and
stable cause-effect relationships in high-tech firms and managers. Such
relationships are not easily observable unless a certain constancy exists. But
in most high-tech firms, the only constant is continual change. As one
insightful student of the innovation process phrased it, "Advanced technology
requires the collaboration of diverse professions and organizations, often with
ambiguous or highly interdependent jurisdictions. In such situations, many of
our highly touted rational management techniques break down.

The Paradoxical Challange

High-tech firms deal with this challenge in different ways. Texas

Instruments, long renowned for the complex, interdependent matrix
structure it used in managing dozens of product-customer centers (PCCs),
recently consolidated groups of PCCs and made them into more
autonomous units.

"The manager of a PCC controls the resources and operations for his entire
family ... in the simplest terms, the PCC manager is to be an entrepreneur,"
explained Fred Bucy, TI's president.

Winnowing Old Products

Older products, upon which the current success of the firm was built, at some
point have to be abandoned: just as the long-term success of the firm requires
the planting and nurturing of new products, it also requires the conscious,
even ruthless, pruning of other products so that the resources they consume
can be used elsewhere.

Winnowing Old Products

Yet, firms also need a certain amount of continuity because major change
often emerges from the accretion of a number of smaller, less visible
improvements. Indeed, most engineers, managers, technologists, and
manufacturing and marketing specialists work on what Thomas Kuhn might
have called "normal innovation," the little steps that improve or extend
existing product lines and processes.

Managing Ambivalently

The successful high-technology firm, then, must be managed ambivalently.

Continuous revolution will bar incremental productivity gains.

Many companies have found that alternating periods of relaxation and

control appear to meet this dual need. Surprisingly, such ambiguity does
not necessarily lead to frustration and discontent.

In fact, interspersing periods of tension, action, and excitement with

periods of reflection, evaluation, and revitalization

Managing Ambivalently

In summary, the central dilemma of the high-technology firm is that it must

succeed in managing two conflicting trends: continuity and rapid change.
There are two ways to resolve this dilemma. One is an old idea: managing
different parts of the firm differently some business units for innovation,
others for efficiency.

Stay hungry, Stay foolish.

- Steve Jobs