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Hatching a Catastrophe

My colleague Scott McGregor sent me the following story when I asked him if he knew of any cases where development projects got out of control because of a lack of design. His story is a tragic one, made ever more so by the fact that it is so typical of our industry.

Scott is a very talented man, as his well-written story attests. He is also a skilled designer with a fine pedigree—academic and practical—in both software engineering and design. He joined a small, venture-funded start-up company in Silicon Valley. The original founders of the company also had well-established credentials, including several successful years at Apple. Scott invited me over one afternoon to meet the founders and to pitch my company. The CEO and the vice president of engineering showed our team what they were working on, and we were impressed. The product idea was excellent. It exploited an aspect of productivity software in a very clever way. The product was based on an appropriately small amount of good technology that served a very real marketplace need.


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