Sunday, January 31, 2010

The NIH Syndrome

In a previous life, I was the manufacturing manager of a new product.

The company I worked for was a medical device manufacturer. As many companies do, they expanded their offerings by buying a small company in California with a product they wanted.

After a couple of years, the company decided it was time to bring out an updated versions of the product. The R&D group was heavily into the NIH syndrome (not invented here). They were intent on developing the product so that it was completely different from the one the California company had originally created.

As the manufacturing manager I got to see the problems this caused. The R&D group refused to listen and learn from what the California company had learned bringing out the first product. We were forced to learn it all over again, the hard way (cost overruns, quality problems, and excessive scrap).

Most vivid to me was the day we all met for an all day meeting. At lunch I went out with the people from the California company. The regaled me with stories about how crazy the R&D people were. The line I remember best was at the end of lunch they told me not to listen to JH because "He doesn't know his *ss from a hole in the ground."

At the end of the day, I went out for drinks with the R&D people. They proceeded to tell me how crazy the California people were ended their tirade with the warning, "Don't listen to them, they don't know their *ss from a hole in the ground."

Watching the Obama Administration regarding the War on Terror you have a similar situation going on. We see the Obama Administration making moves in the War on Terror which seems to be motivated by the desire not to do anything the Bush Administration did. Close down Guantonomo. Absolutely. Close down the military tribunals and mirandize KSM? Of course. When you capture new terrorists, put them into the American Juriprudence system which keeps you from questioning them and getting what could be vital information to stop future terrorist attacks. As President Obama said, we don't have to sacrifice our principles for security.

The problem as I see it from this approach is while it cost the company I worked for a lot of money and marketshare, it didn't kill anyone. I'm not sure that we will be that lucky in this regard.

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