JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 132 : 26 September 2003

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Struggling Invensys finally drops IBM IT relationship

I present this as a case history of how misguided projects go awry in large companies, while yes-men minions stand by. And then, after good people are destroyed and huge amounts of money are wasted, the old mistake is reversed. And the guilty remain.

In June 2001, I reported in JimPinto.com eNews that that Allen Yurko, then CEO of Invensys, was already in deep trouble. To cut expenses, he initiated a terribly mis-directed program dubiously dubbed "Project Unity". This included outsourcing of all Invensys IT systems (including hardware and software) and transfer of current IT employees to IBM through a "strategic outsourcing arrangement" (read: layoffs) to take place in "Autumn 2001". Not one of his "yes-men" questioned Yurko.

Just a few weeks after, it was clear that Allen Yurko was being booted out and Rick Haythornthwaite was hired as his replacement. Yurko was still shamelessly staying on at Invensys HQ, supposedly exiting gracefully, with a princely pension. But, Project Unity had not yet been implemented - the deal with IBM had not yet been signed.

In 2001, I had already exited Action Instruments (now owned by Eurotherm, which was part of Invensys). But, recognizing the opportunity to stop Project Unity, I personally contacted several key Invensys Managers, and notably Peter Tompkins of Eurotherm. Peter Wade, CEO of Eurotherm had already exited, and I hoped that Tompkins, (previously dubbed Repeater Tompkins because he echoed everything Peter Wade ever said) would now find an opportunity finally to make a decision for himself. Tompkins could now be a hero to his own people. He could advise the newbie Haythornthwaite to stop the deal with IBM, or at least himself stop the transfer at Eurotherm and Action Instruments. But sadly, Tompkins chickened out and the debacle of "Project Unity" proceeded.

This past week, after damages that amount to hundreds of millions of dollars over two years, the news came via the weblogs that the IBM deal was finally cancelled. Apparently, Haythornthwaite finally wised up, or perhaps the scaled down Invensys was not profitable for IBM. Some 600+ ex-Invensys-now-IBM employees are now to be re-transferred back to Invensys.

Who can calculate the damages in already replaced hardware, misplaced documentation, half-baked software transfers and irreparable damage to many, many previously dedicated employees??

Who will take responsibility now, and fire the yes-men who stood silent when their company was being destroyed??

Click Read the latest news and views on the Invensys weblog

Click JimPinto.com weblog Index

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Pinto Book: Automation Unplugged

I'm happy to let you know that my new book, "Automation Unplugged" is being published by ISA next month. It's now at the printer, and will be available on the bookstands at ISA Expo, Houston, TX. October 21-23, 2003.

The book is sub-titled: "Pinto’s perspectives, prognostications, predictions & poetry". It includes the best of my articles on a variety of automation topics, with a special introduction by Dick Morley, technology guru and father of the PLC. Each of 5 sections is introduced by a noted automation industry personality.

  • Industrial Automation Majors, the good, the bad and the ugly.
    Introduced by John Berra, President Emerson Process
  • Marketing, Sales & Distribution Perspectives
    Introduced by Frank Williams, CEO of I/O Select
  • Future of Automation Technology Technology - Gee Whiz !
    Introduced by Bud Keyes, Senior Vice President, Emerson Process
  • Industrial Networks - this bus is for you.
    Introduced by Dick Caro, CMC Associates, Chairman of ISA SP50 and formerly of IEC Fieldbus Standards Committees.
  • Pinto's Industrial Poetry
    Introduced by Greg Hale, Edit, InTech.
"Automation Unplugged" will soon be available online from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers. Advance orders are now being accepted, and it will be available for shipment after Oct. 15 2003. And I'll be at ISA Houston, presenting and autographing my hot-off-the-press book.

Click Read the Table of Contents

Click Place your advance orders for "Automation Unplugged"

Click Buy "Automation Unplugged" from AutomationTechies.com

Click UK and European readers - "The Read-Out Instrumentation Signpost":

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Secrets of the Powerpoint masters

We all use Powerpoint to make presentations (who doesn't?) But, many use it simply as an electronic version of overhead transparencies, or a replacement for a slide projector. Most of us use just a small fraction of the power of Powerpoint. Or, we use it as a crutch, a fancy prompter from which we read our notes. As the audience looks at the screen, their minds stray somewhere else, their thoughts distracted by an ineffective presentation.

So, how can YOU use Powerpoint more effectively? Would it help you to learn the tricks of the masters that could make your presentations more effective? Would you like to keep your audiences wide awake, getting more of your message?

I've picked a few links here that could benefit anyone and everyone who uses Powerpoint. Spend a few minutes reviewing these suggestions, to see how much you already know. I bet you'll learn a couple of new things. And perhaps you'd like to bookmark these links to read before you make your next big presentation.

Click Kung Fu Secrets of the PowerPoint Masters

Click PowerPoint tips, tricks, secrets & undocumented features

Click Ten Secrets For Using PowerPoint Effectively

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Editorial: exaggerating small differences

Our discussion about the attacks between "conservatives" and "liberals" brought a lot of good feedback. In reality, most people have differences that are difficult to describe. To make a point, exaggerations comes into play. Small differences are magnified, and the opposing (small) point is attacked.

Just look at the way the Democrat Presidential candidates seem to be attacking each other. They are all Democrats, and when one of them finally wins the nomination, presumably the others will unite behind him (or her, if it's Hillary).

In the meantime, Republicans are not attacking President Bush; presumably no Republican will be running against him. One supposes that any attack would be considered disloyal - they'd be thrown out of the party. So, does this mean at ALL Republicans agree with everything that GW Bush says and does? If they disagree, their objections seem muted.

I'd like to make a point here, helped by John Green [thegolfgreen@comcast.net] who wrote:

    "I agree the media has had a major part in this. But, you cannot ignore the fact that the 2 political parties prefer it that way. It is much easier to put everyone in a box. I am of the opinion that the majority of us do not fit into either of those restrictive boxes. The "moderates", both democratic and republican, are the majority. That is the inequity of our current political structure. The majority do not have a voice."
To illustrate my point, take a look at the exaggerated differences in the attacks launched by extremist "liberal" and "conservative" writers/speakers in their recent books.
  • Conservative Ann Coulter's book "Treason" attacks all "liberals" with all the vicious epithets you can imagine.
  • The book "Lies and Lying Liars" by Al Franken attacks President Bush and "conservatives" with some of the very same Coulter epithets and pejoratives.
I'm not suggesting you read these books. But, you might spend a few minutes reviewing them via the weblinks I've provided. Perhaps like me, you'll resolve once and for all that you are neither liberal nor conservative, but moderate.

Click Al Franken Book - Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

Click Ann Coulter Book - Treason
Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism

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Tip Johnson [Tip_Johnson@msn.com] said that the Liberal VS Conservative topic has been his pet peeve for many years:
    "I also saw the interview with Wesley Clark and completely agree with him - I'd vote for him for just having the guts to say it in today's political climate.

    "I show my conservative friends the dictionary definitions of the words, but they just claim that the dictionary has a liberal bias (books are part of the liberal media, aren't they?). We have what is defined as a liberal form of government (democratic republic) and a liberal economic system (free enterprise), yet for some reason liberal is a bad thing to be. When Russia or China shift towards democracy and open markets, they are described as becoming more liberal; and when they shift back towards dictatorship and communism, they are described as becoming more conservative.

    A few years ago I saw a commentary by Senator Barry Goldwater who said (I summarize here) that most people, but especially the media, don't understand the meanings of liberal and conservative, and that he considered himself a liberal. If you remember, Barry Goldwater wrote a book titled "The Conscience of a Conservative".

    "My favorite dictionary definition of liberal is "one who acts without prejudice." So the phrase "liberal bias" is actually an oxymoron."

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Jake Brodsky [frussle@erols.com] wrote about corporate greed:
    "Gosh, Jim, didn't you realize that power corrupts? This is not about bad business or good government. It's about vigilance. Nobody's minding the till.

    "Government is not the solution. Complacency is the enemy. When someone says "trust me" - don't. That's how the accounting firms got in to those scandals. That's how CEOs have been ripping off share holders. And this happened because we allowed a bubble to form right under our noses. Those unbelievably good numbers posted by the likes of Tyco and Enron were not questioned. We got greedy too. How can anyone legislate that problem away?

    "Greed, like the other major sins, is a matter of degree. When it's healthy, we'd call it desire, or ambition. It becomes greed when laws are broken. Likewise, laziness is healthy in that it can motivate a person to seek easier ways to do things. Laziness causing one to fail to meet one's obligations is called Sloth.

    "Enlightened self interest is where a CEO knows he or she (though it's almost always "he") won't get far because too many are watching."

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Joe Martin [JTMartin@MartinCSI.com] doesn't really like Dilbert humor:
    "Have you ever wondered why Corporate America is the way that it is? Well, let's look at Dilbert....
      -Would you hire Dilbert as an employee?
      -Would you ever want to work with his co-workers?
      -Would you work in a office environment like Dilbert's?
    Of course not.

    "What if you owned your own technical business, struggled through this economy, sacrificed your paycheck so you didn't have to lay off your employees? Would you want a Dilbert team? Of course not.

    "Some say that Dilbert is just a little office humor, no harm done. I say that many engineers and office staff are hooked on the life and times of Dilbert. Like soap opera junkies, too many people get too involved in simple forms of entertainment and they subconsciously blend real life with the fantasy world. Soon, they unknowingly measure real events with what their "hero" does and begin stereotyping real people with fictional characters.

    "Your article quotes: "There are now 697,741 members of DNRC (Dogbert's new ruling class)." What kind of culture do you think is being created among these folks? You know, profit is not a bad word. Especially when profit = employment. Have you ever seen a strip where Dilbert provokes positive thinking, encourages cooperation or successfully adds anything to the bottom line? I have not.

    "I think that Dilbert is a propaganda campaign launched at good old home grown American engineers and technical office staff by an evil foreign power which wants to gobble up all the technical work in America and export it to their own country. As far as I'm concerned, Dilbert is the comic equivalent to a work-place anti-Christ. Think about it!"

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