Not Invented Here

Not Invented Here by David I ShapiroNot Invented Here is a work of fiction-based-on-fact. The protagonist, Ben, and the rest of his “team” are real, down-to-earth men, complete with family problems, a real-lifestyle, and problems in the workplace. Ben begins his aerospace industrial career after completing his WWII duty as a Naval Aviator. The story follows through Ben’s life as he plays a major role in the Moon Mission and further on as a manager in a major corporation.

Ben and his “team” work to streamline the management of the many divisions of a large aerospace corporation and, together, they come up with many innovative projects for military aircraft, missiles, commercial air transports and management techniques.

Along with being a great read, these stories will give much insight to present day entrepreneurs and managers as to ways they can improve their own techniques.

David and Not Invented Here were recently featured on CSPAN2 (January 2002). Be sure to catch his future appearances and pick up the 2nd edition of Not Invented Here, now in stores and online!

Review by: The American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics in the November 2001 issue of Aerospace America …



Before Ted introduced the real subject – MidWest Division – he suggested that they have another cocktail before dinner and continue their conversation during their meal on the merits of transferring personnel between the CMX Commercial Products Group and AeroSpace Systems Group.

To get into the MidWest subject he said, “I understand you were at the MidWest Division prior to being transferred back to Los Angeles and the Space Division.”

Bill nodded in the affirmative and was not overly surprised that MidWest was a topic. He was aware of the Navy fighter loss through Ben’s participation in the proposal and had heard of the problems with the Stallion not meeting specs. He was not keenly familiar with the extent of the Division’s financial performance, but was knowledgeable enough to know that they would not be paid for the development portion of the contract until the aircraft met specs and was certified by the Navy Board of Inspection Survey – the BIS – which took place after extensive flight testing. In fact, he and other old aircraft hands were surprised when the Navy approved production and delivery of lots of forty aircraft more than ten times without the aircraft passing the BIS. They rationalized that the Navy didn’t really care – after all, the aircraft were being delivered to the Air Force for the Forward Air Control mission – which was also a mystery to them!

Ted then went into some of the things about the MidWest Division that he and the other CMX Board members had been discussing off-line. But he emphasized, “There hasn’t been any discussion of the MidWest problem at the regular Board meetings, because the Board still has some AeroSpace executives as members. These off-line discussions took place with three or four Board members at lunches, dinners and the like, and the participants had never met together as a group.”

Ted freshened their cocktails as he asked, “Give me some off-the-cuff feel for what you think the problem is and maybe we can come up with a solution without having a big-deal Board involvement.”

Bill hesitated then reluctantly said, “I may not be a good source for you to ask about this because I left MidWest after becoming unhappy with the senior management.”

Ted asked the natural question, “Why?”

“I prefer not to go into it, but their management style was autocratic and their cliquishness conflicted with my participative and performance-oriented management style.”

“I had some of my staffers look into the situation” Ted explained, “and they had concluded the same thing – the management of MidWest is faulty and the Division needs a turnaround team badly.”

“The CMX Personnel people reviewed the turnaround experts in the CMX cadre for potential transfer to MidWest. They recommended that we need a team from the AeroSpace side of the house. Our other option was to hire a headhunter to bring in a team from one of Pegasus’ competitors. But that would be time consuming, expensive, and the word would get out on the street that we are in trouble. After discussing the problem with Chas Sherman and Jay Bean, who are more familiar with your side of the corporation, they suggested that you and two or three members of your McAlester management team be selected.”

Ted had revealed the real reason for this meeting. “What do you think about that idea?”

Bill said, “I am not looking for a new job. I have the McAlester Division to develop to its full potential!”

Ted shot back, “McAlester is already at its full potential!”

“What are my options?” Bill asked.

Ted’s answer was straightforward, “Not very many – if you want to stay and grow professionally at CMX. We are looking at growing teams out of the AeroSpace staff similar to the turnaround teams we have at the CPG. Your team will be the first!”

The discussion then centered on the terms of the turnaround. Ted made it quite simple by saying, “Turn it around within one year or close it down!”

Bill left right after breakfast on Sunday. From the Logan Business Terminal, he called Dave at home and told him to meet the Rapier at McAlester and clear the decks for a business meeting – just the two of them. The Rapier landed at the plant’s runway at 2PM and Dave was there with the company car. He asked if Bill wanted to meet at the office or at home. Bill suggested the office because he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go home until they had a chance to talk.

This did not seem too strange to Dave, and after these many years together, not out of character. Dave knew Bill well enough that when he had a pressing issue, he wanted to seek counsel away from home first, and then announce the course of action to his family. Participative management was for the business, not for the family! He had come to this conclusion recently, ever since his wife Mary joined up and became very involved with a local religious group that he considered a cult. This was after the many years she and the children had been perfect partners in all his projects and transfers. Now she had announced she was in McAlester for the duration – no more moves! The children were not a problem; they were all about ready to fly the coop anyway – to college and marriage. It did not take Bill long to brief Dave on the meeting at Ted’s and the proposition.

Dave’s initial reaction was upbeat. He said, “I am looking forward to the promotion and the carte blanche. Are we going to include Ben on the team?”

Bill said, “I have a gut feeling that Ben has more to do with this than Ted let on. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was all Ben’s idea. If it wasn’t, he sure had a lot to do with it. Look at all the time he has been spending in LA! And he is real close to the CMX plants there. Ted did mention in our discussion that a couple of key CMX players, Chas Sherman and Jay, had strong input as to the selection of the McAlester team. Those are the same people that Ben meets with all the time. We don’t have a choice in not taking Ben; besides even if we did, I wouldn’t want not to include him.”



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