Don't Be a JerkAttack Complacency

“Hey, we are doing pretty good. Why would we want to make any changes?”

“Don't you think we could do a little better?”

—Sometimes star questioning his leader

In the 1970s Kodak and Xerox were the toast of American technology. Both companies were headquartered in Rochester, New York, and if you lived in Rochester during that time, you probably worked for one or the other. It was a boomtown. Kodak dominated the camera, film, and picture development market; Xerox dominated the copier market. Times were good.

Charles Simonyl was a programmer for Xerox at their research facility in Palo Alto, California. The team at Palo Alto Research (PARC) invented word-processing software graphics that displayed multiple-sized fonts on a screen. The graphics were referred to as WYSIWYG or “What you see is what you get.” The intuitive software was manipulated by a computer mouse. Simonyl left Xerox in 1980 to join Microsoft because “Xerox didn't have the right answers to complex technology questions. That's normal,” he said, “but what bothered me the most was that they didn't know the right questions, either.” In the meantime, 24-year-old Steve Jobs negotiated with Xerox to visit the PARC location. He then cherry-picked the talent at PARC for Apple. Xerox was the inventor of the personal computer, intuitive software, and the mouse. It was not a big deal to Xerox—things were going well. The PARC was way out there—both in location and the traditional thinking at ...

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