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The Tao of Missed Opportunity
- To: <greg>, <us>
- Subject: The Tao of Missed Opportunity
- From: Marc Stiegler <acad!xanadu!marcs>
- Date: Fri, 16 Mar 90 14:11:05 PST
Thank you for that update on the features of AutoCAD, Greg. I
had not realized that we had missed the boat for R11. I must
confess, I am quite sad (crushed might be a better description),
though I understand why, in a list of hard tradeoffs, this was
a wise tradeoff for Autodesk to make.
In its own way, this surprising news about R11 is an opportunity
for some of the people here at Xanadu. It is an opportunity to
learn, and remember, what it means to take "just a few days longer".
Several times in the past year and a half we have discussed how
difficult it is to fully appreciate the cost of being late, because
the most important cost is the opportunities you miss that you
never even know about. You can slip a day, and another day, and
another, and there's no visible consequence...until one day you
walk into your office and discover that you slipped too many
days, and something really wonderful will not happen because
Of course, the nebulousity of the missed opportunity makes it
impossible for ordinary people to weight it as a factor when
they are evaluating the urgency of their work. The only way I
know of to grasp the true importance of speed is to seek out
individual examples of the consequences of "just one more day",
and hug them to your heart, and every time you find yourself
saying "just one more day", remember that THIS is what it means.
It's probably worth a moment or two for some of the members of
Xanadu to reflect upon the consequences of the opportunity lost
here, to hug it tight, to experience what it means to be a few
days late enough times so that, before you know it, a year has
come and gone.
Release 10 of AutoCAD was in the throes of shipping when I arrived
here in 1988. Release 11 will ship about 2 years after Release
10, according to current estimates--that release is still about
half a year away.
So if we assume that Release 12 will take about as long to ship,
and if we start counting when Release 11 ships, it will be two
and a half years before customers can run a Xanadu link to an
Had we been able to demonstrate that Xanadu could be depended
upon as a worthy product to integrate with AutoCAD, the tradeoff
of features in R11 might well have gone another way. People would
have been able to run Xanadu links with AutoCAD drawings the
day we announced that Xanadu was available.
Had AutoCAD been available on the day we announced Xanadu, there
might have been some thousands of very easy Xanadu sales to
large AutoCAD installations. Those thousands of sales have been
lost. Those millions of dollars of revenue that the sales would
have generated have been lost. Those millions of documents that
would have been interlinked in Xanadu information pools at those
thousands of sites have been lost.
Had Xanadu consequently become a great a success in the CAD community,
there might have been additional sales of AutoCAD because of
the Xanadu links. There might then have been more sales of Xanadu
because of the additional users of AutoCAD.
All now lost.
This is what it feels like to miss an opportunity. This is what
it means to take just a few more days.
For those people at Xanadu who haven't before had a personal
experience with the meaning of a slip, you now have a blinding