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Re: Dennis Wish's contributions

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>Adm Rickover concluded several points with, "A common thread moves through
>all the principles I have discussed: It is the desire to improve oneself and
>one's surroundings by actively participating in life.  Too many succumb to
>the emotional preference of the comfortable solution instead of the
>difficult one.  It is easy to do nothing."
>
>It is clear which of these courses Dennis has taken.

This sounds a little like a cheap shot. Based an a similar experience of 
my own, I think Dennis' decision came out of the realization that his 
time and energy, both finite, were better directed elsewhere. We all 
claim to admire people who dream the impossible dream and fight the 
invincible foe, but that's not how we invest or raise our kids. And we 
don't often tell someone how much we admire their particular exercise in 
futility. 

And for what it's worth, Rickover's chief claim to fame is the nuclear 
submarine program which predated the Enterprise by 5-10 years. Rickover 
was a good example of an extinct breed in these days of the team 
player--an engineer/manager totally committed to his project in overview 
and detail, with the intelligence and drive to take an interest and  
understand what his people are doing. He was also an arrogant son of a 
bitch (albeit a competent and totally incorruptible arrogant son of a 
bitch) whose success was due in great measure to support from some very 
powerful members of congress, and whose personal foibles got him in 
trouble from time to time.

Unlike Dennis, Rickover was comfortably incomplete charge of the project, 
which likely affected his opinion of what was comfortable and what 
wasn't. And without some powerful friends his abrasive personality might 
have put him alongside Billy Mitchell and Robert Goddard as one of many 
invincible foe-fighters who were proved right long after they should have 
been. I daresay many things would be different if Dennis had Rickover's 
friends and authority.

Rickover had some fairly definite views on individual responsibility 
which have some bearing on this thread:
'The present day technical complexity is beyond the point where you can 
count on "the system" to do the job well...if you eliminate transient 
technical management and assign individual responsibility...Only then can 
the necessary detailed technical control, the establishment and 
enforcement of proper standards and the selection and training of 
personnel be done at the level commensurate with the degree of technical 
excellence required...' He also said, 'Unless you can point your finger 
at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you never 
had anyone really responsible.' 

Even though he was talking about weapons system development, his point is 
valid for any technical effort. This seems contrary to present thinking 
that only committees and project teams can marshall necessary technical 
expertise, but there's no question that Rickover knew what he was talking 
about.

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw