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Welcome to Moonlite Systems

Purpose

Moonlite Systems is a company founded by George Moon. Moonlite is created for the advancement of technical management through written material, consulting, workshops and seminars.

Founder

George Moon has over thirty years of experience in the fields of technical management and leadership in various executive positions as well as building complex software systems.  Mr. Moon has published a book entitled “Lessons Learned: Management and Leadership for a Technical World” where George shares stories from his experiences.  These stories include ones from when he founded his own company, ran several global development teams and his years as CTO of a large multi-national software company that grew from $45 million to $170 million U.S.

Workshops

Workshops and seminars are built around the Lessons Learned book.  They use stories from Mr. Moon’s experience to illustrate the leadership characteristics presented in the book. See the workshop section for more details here.  One of the leadership characteristics is a sense of calmness.  The workshop presents examples of stories followed by discussions of lessons learned upon hearing the story, similar stories from the participants and then a summary of the main characteristic.

 


 

Glider  Pilot  Management


The year Prime formally agreed to form a joint company with Wild for SYSTEM 9 was also the year Prime had a devastating distraction.  The New York Times published about Prime:  “First­quarter 1989 results reflect expenses of $6.3 million, or $4.4 million after tax, associated with an unsolicited tender offer from MAI Basic Four Inc.”35   MAI Basic Four was attempting a hostile takeover bid for Prime.  This was a huge distraction and the attempt occupied much of the talk whenever I visited Prime corporate headquarters.  If you know the expression 'deer in the headlights' then that is a good visual of what I saw.  Employee preoccupation with rumors of a take over and the consequences of uncertainty made it difficult to continue business as usual.  Losses mounted for Prime while a ‘white knight’ was sought.


My boss from Wild, Urs, who stayed to head the division during the joint venture,  was amazingly calm in spite of all the rumors of what would happen if the hostile MAI takeover was successful.  Many managers and employees in different Prime divisions were anxious about the latest news of the hour and what it meant for them and the business.  They spent considerable time speculating on outcomes and how to offset their perceived negative impact on their customer and prospect base.

 

Many were consumed with anxiety from the rumors and had difficulties doing their daily work.  Some good employees in various departments were leaving the company.   Urs was clear headed.  I asked him how he could possibly remain calm when so many around him were in a state of panic.  He said he was a glider pilot.


I did not understand what he meant.   He explained in Switzerland you can ride the updrafts from the mountains and travel far.  Sometimes the glider gets caught in turbulence from a strong updraft and the glider shakes violently.  He explained your natural instinct is to grab the “stick” and wrestle with the glider to control it; instead you have to let go of the stick, let the turbulence pass and then take the stick and steer the glider on its way.


I focused on keeping my team busy building the code our customers were expecting.  I had my managers keep them even busier than normal on new product ideas and what approaches we could take to solve really difficult technical problems.  I emphasized that the best thing we could do during this time of uncertainty was to produce what we said we would produce, and ensure our customers were satisfied.  I told them I would keep them informed whenever there was any concrete news and did so.  We had regular discussions on project progress and the “latest rumor”.  When I able to do so, I validated or invalidated the rumor and reminded them to continue focusing on their tasks.  While I saw good employees from other divisions leave weekly for other jobs, no one from my team left.


Lessons Learned

  • Focus on what you can do and control in times of turmoil and not on events outside your influence.  When events are not in your control you can become distracted worrying about them, or you can let them develop as they will.  Focusing on what you can do does not mean to ignore the turmoil.  You may well find out that once things have settled you will be able to affect the eventual outcome of events originally not in your control.
  • Being distracted has the potential for many undesirable consequences such as losing control of costs, as you will read in the next section.
  • During uncertain times keep your employees busy with their work.  Our team stayed together and we did not lose any critical team members during this period of uncertainty nor during any subsequent crisis.  I saw the destructive nature of uncertainty several years later which re-enforces the need to keep your team busy, focused and informed.  It is worth a few words in the next section to emphasize the importance of this lesson.

35 Control Data Net Slides; Prime Computer Has Deficit By LAWRENCE M. FISHER, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES Published: April 28, 1989

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