This is interesting… I always wonder how a company with so-so engineering and design talent, and one that has been putting out inferior products since the original StarTAC, all the sudden came up with something as cool as the RAZR, now I know.
The January 21st issue of The Economist has a “survey of the company” (companies in general, not just Moto), with intriguing articles on organization, management and collaboration. These excellent surveys alone are more than worth their online or print subscription.
The skunkworks concept fell into disrepute when it was seen as just another cost centre, and one with attitude at that. Now it is being revived, but in a different guise. Much of Motorola’s Razr mobile phone, currently a big market hit, was developed in a new laboratory that the company has set up in downtown Chicago, 50 miles (80km) from its main R&D facility in suburban Illinois. The building and the design of the workspace are very different from Motorola’s main offices, with lots of bright colours and no dividing walls.
In this type of skunkworks, geniuses are not just left to breathe pure intellectual air, as they often were in previous incarnations; they are also constantly brought into contact with designers, marketing people, production managers and accountants. The idea is not that they emerge at the end of the day with something that makes their competitors say ?wow?. It is that they come out with something that makes their competitors’ customers say ?wow?.
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