The three sorts of knowledge form a tripod: if any leg were lost, no part would stand.
In the winter of 2000–2001, Cisco had a near-death experience. It missed the downturn in the economy. It fired eighty-five hundred employees—about a fifth of its staff—and wrote off $2.2 billion of fast-obsolescing unsold inventory. Cisco stock was down 83 percent by April 2001. The reason was a mistaken growth assumption.
By 2000, Cisco had enjoyed ten years of quarterly growth. Internet router components being in short supply, that growth record seemed to justify aggressive anticipatory component procurement.1 But dot-com companies were failing and reselling scarcely used Cisco equipment. ...