Fast-changing technology sector does not allow long-term planning
In this excerpt, Goodnight says that he relies on trade magazines to stay up-to-date on industry developments, and notes that trying to plan too far in the future does not work because the industry changes too quickly.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Jim Goodnight, July 22, 1999. Interview I-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
JM: Let me step away from some of the closer questions of SAS's evolution as business to some issues of broader perspective of business and society -- certain aspects of the philosophy of running a business and so forth. Let me ask first about--. This is a question that I've put to all these folks who have participated in this series. As you look back, what do you consider some of the most important sources of perspective, construed broadly in your life? I'm especially interested in sources upon which you have drawn which might not necessarily be those closely related to the industry.
JG: Well, what I've drawn on more than anything else is really industry trade magazines. I really have not looked outside to any great philosophy or anything else. What's going on in our industry is pretty well represented by trade books that come out every weekend. I read them. I take them home with me and read four or five of those a week. Pretty fast, I'm flipping through them looking for articles of interest. That's how you keep up with the trends when your industry is moving. You've got to do that.
JM: Have you spent much time doing something as fancy as strategic visioning? Do you sit down and try to map out where you're going to be more than a couple of years ahead? Is it that the business just won't allow that -- the nature [of the business]?
JG: No we never have done that. The business moves too fast. You really cannot map out something that long. Now, version eight of our software that we're going to be shipping later this year, we've been working on that for five years. But during that five-year period, we have changed directions several times as the Internet became a more and more important factor. We wanted to make sure that all of our output was available as HTML so that we could put information directly out on the web from our software. So things like that, even as you're doing development on a very concise plan, we still have to make changes to the plan itself as we move along. That's the only way you can stay fluid. This is a very dynamic, very fluid industry. You've got to be able to adapt and move with it, so I forbid things like five-year plans. We just don’t allow them.