And you thought Taichii Ohno was tough!

An excerpt from Diffusion of Innovations, 5th ed. by Everett Rogers, here is an interesting story behind Toshiba’s first laptop!
Convincing the corporate leaders at Toshiba that Mizoguchi’s vision for a laptop computer made sense turned out to be extremely difficult. The company had just failed in the marketplace with its personal computer, taking huge losses, and corporate leaders had decided to get out of the computer business. They denied Mizoguchi’s request for development funds and refused to assign him any experienced engineers for a laptop R&D team. Not discouraged, Mizoguchi went “underground” with the laptop project at the company’s Ome factory, located some twenty-five miles from Toshiba’s Tokyo headquarters. He diverted funds and shifted ten engineers from military projects to design the laptop. A prototype was created in twenty-four months, but the process was very stressful to those involved. For example, one Friday afternoon, the exhausted engineers were unable to find space to pack one more device into the already jam-packed prototype (Albetti, 1997). Mizoguchi ripped the cover off of the laptop and poured a glass of water inside (thus ruining all the electrical circuits). He turned the laptop upside down, and a few drops of water came out. Turning to his stunned engineers, Mizoguchi exclaimed, “See, there is some space left! Work smarter!”

On the one hand, you have to admire Mizoguchi's secret skunkworks approach to getting the first laptop computer developed. This takes a lot of bravery and vision to see this level of innovation through. However, not a lot of respect for people, property or his team’s effort and he was rewarded later in his career despite this destructive behavior towards other individuals. Any thoughts on how Mizoguchi could have devised a better coaching method - even if your method isn't as entertaining?

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At April 10, 2013 at 8:27 PM , Anonymous Brian Werneke said...

Sounds like something out of the Steve Jobs playbook...


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