Interviews with Innovators

Posted on August 9, 2006  Comments (0)

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston is an interesting looking book to be published in a few months. The book consists of interviews with founders of technology companies exploring the initial efforts to create a new company.

Interviews include: David Heinemeier Hansson (who many of our readers may not have heard of but who has recently done a great web development framework [Ruby on Rails] and development philosophy very compatable with lean thinking), Evan Williams (founder of blogger), Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist), Joel Spolsky (who we have referenced in various posts), Ray Ozzie, Paul Graham and many more. The interview of Steve Wozniak is available online:

The very first thought in my mind was, “I think I signed a document that everything I design belongs to Hewlett-Packard.” Even just on my own time, I thought that they deserved it first. And I wanted Hewlett-Packard to build this. I loved my division. I was going to work there for life. It was the calculator division; it was the right division to move into this kind of a computer.

I went to management, and I had three levels of bosses above me in a room and a couple of other engineers, and I presented the ideas and told them what we could do at what price and how it would work. They were intrigued by it, but they couldn’t justify it as a Hewlett-Packard product for some good reasons. Hewlett-Packard couldn’t do a simple project, which was really what was interesting.

Very reminiscent of the ideas Clayton Christensen explores in Innovators Dilemma.

My whole life was basically trying to optimize things. You don’t just save parts, but every time you save parts you save on complexity and reliability, the amount of time it takes to understand something. And how good you can build it without errors and bugs and flaws.

I think Taiichi Ohno would be very happy with such thoughts.

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