They Solved their Problems by Refusing to Recognize Them

My experiences in the computer industry in the Eighties and Nineties should have taught me something – but these were so confusing as to be useless. As soon as I would learn something, from one disaster – I would get hit by another one. I didn’t have the maturity to calmly sort them out, and see the larger picture.

Only now, after living in Costa Rica for 15 years, I have regained some sanity. And can learn the lessons I should have learned then. One experience was especially painful – because it involved the destruction of San Diego.

I was working for a company in Los Angeles, when it decided to move to San Diego – because the pickings were better down there. Los Angeles had been ruined, and it was time to move on.

I ended up with a company called Supercomputing Solutions. It overlooked a cemetery, where you could see the funeral processions bringing their dead. A place full of natural beauty, and a relaxed way of life, was being filled up with new housing developments and freeways. And lots of stress.

My new company was formed by an industrialist who had made his money somewhere else – and now wanted to make big money in a new industry – the computer industry. So he organized a new corporation, issued stock – and raked in the cash. This was at the start of the dot-com boom and investors would throw their money into anything that looked high-tech.

He decided his company would make supercomputers – about which he knew nothing – and didn’t want to know anything. He would hire some experts to do that – and he would sit back and mismanage everything – which he proceeded to do. He milked the company for all it was worth.

This was not peculiar – everyone was doing it, at the time – they were wrecking the Golden State. And the best part of that state – the coastal strip from San Diego to San Francisco.

The experts he hired were crazy – like himself. And they made sure nothing, in the last analysis, worked. They did hire some bright chaps, who came up with some bright ideas – which they were happily working on. While ignoring the larger picture – what the company was like – as a whole.

This was a pattern used by almost everyone. Only concentrate on the small picture – in space and time. And ignore what is going on in the big picture. Because you do not want to see that.

The net result was the Supercomputing Solutions went out of business – taking millions of dollars with it. Their prototype, which should have been put on display in the Smithsonian, as an example of a fine effort that failed – was turn apart, and sold for spare parts.

No one learned anything.


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