[users] [OT] Analogies to "governance, " not so much "manufacturer" -- WAS: EPEL

Bryan J Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Sun Jun 26 14:07:10 CEST 2011

From: Yury V. Zaytsev <yury at shurup.com>

> This question is in a very same vein as asking why would we have 5 major
> car platform manufacturers producing mutually incompatible products,
> which results in the duplication of the engineering efforts instead of
> having one worldwide meta-manufacturer, that would produce the most
> advanced car platforms in a truly efficient way.
> Do you have an answer for that already?

Maybe it's because I'm a Libertarian-thinking American engineer, but I do not 
believe that is an accurate analogy.  Yes, I'm nitpicking ...  ;)

Just want to point out the following reasons:  
1.  The assumption that multiple engineering teams are poor and less efficient
2.  That a single entity or "bureau" would produce something more advanced
3.  Many manufacturers actually use the exact same suppliers, with full 

If #1 is true, why not just have all engineers in a class work on a single 
"super project" instead of challenging each other to see what ideas and designs 
they could come up with?  And #2, well, that's one of the greatest lessons in 
engineering, as the concept of communism actually appeals to engineers, and most 
of the Soviet Union was filled engineers in their political landscape.  It's the 
core belief that everything from marketing to microeconomics is a waste of time, 
which is a clear west v. east engineering mentality, whereas the west learns 
management and feasibility, and the east did not.  And if you don't believe #3, 
let's talk the "lowly" Corvette versus Ferrari sometime, and some of the rather 
inexpensive, Anglo-American parts that do into high-end products of the latter.  
Heck, even the Toyota mats came from an American manufacturer who spends 97% of 
their time manufacturing for other makers (and they regularly had to point out 
Toyota's requirements and specifications versus others, to show where the 
differences came from).

A _better_ analogy would not be the independent, commercial car companies, but 
more on the "goverance" side, conflicting North American transportation 
standards with European Union, etc..., even inter-country or municipality 
issues.  Everything from headrests to lights, much more other aspects like 
emissions and fuel -- including why Americans are seemingly "allergic" to diesel 
(regulatory more than anything).  Then you have both the manufacturers as well 
as the consumers who have to deal with those conflicting standards, and redesign 
even their own vehicles for different locales and regulatory requirements.  
That's more of what is going on here, different standards, foci, maintainership, 
leadership, etc...  GM, Toyota, etc... have wildly differing divisions and even 
names (e.g., GM's Holden in Australia), and if you ever have the chance to talk 
to a chief engineer, you'll learn a lot about the issues.  We can even talk 
about the folly of assuming displacement means less  fuel efficient, related 
taxes and other things.

So does one just accept the Fedora Guidelines, Maintainer and Project governance 
as "The" standard?  That would certainly solve the problem, correct?  How many 
here would agree to that?  ;)

Let's throw a more simplified auto analogy, racing.  Here in the US, for sports 
car racing (don't assume just because I'm an American that I follow NASCAR and 
we Americans don't have anything but oval tracks ;) ), there is both IMSA 
sponsored, ACO (EU) aligned, series like the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and 
more US-centric ISC run Grand Am program.  Many would argue that the ACO is 
already a real, international organization, with standards for prototype and 
touring that everyone should follow.  Others would complain there are some 
serious differences in foci for racing between NA and EU, especially when it 
comes to manfacturing-centric v. performance-centric.  Both arguments have 
merits.  As much as the ACO has had quite a history, one can look back to the 
'80s and Grand Am's predecessor in influencing major advances in everything from 
ABS to traction control.  

And that's before we consider the US' manufacturing-centric industry has 
generally  been allergic to formal sanction for fear of racing being seen as  
dangerous and a liability for sales.  Even GM was a major opponent  (until 
1998), and Ford only officially sanctioned it's '60s ACO teams  because it was 
spurned when it tried to by Ferrari (and even then it did  not use its own 
program, but looked to Shelby who looked outside of  Ford).  And even when 
sanctioned today by the ACO, you have differences between NA and EU.  ALMS is in 
the bread'n butter consumer markets of the Americas, so it's clearly more 
manufacturing-based.  Even LMS (EU) is far more centric on the privateer teams 
and drivers -- especially in FIA GT1 where few manufacturers go.  I mean, if 
you're a smaller design firm, who wants to challenge a deep pockets corporation 
like a GM or Toyota when they have product branded manufacturer backed teams 
that sell sub-$50K models that beat your 6-7 figure priced model continually?  
Does your marketing absolutely no good.

Governance, not choice, is the issue.  And playing fields are rarely level.  
Different requirements tend to cause different needs.  However, focusing on 
co-existence and compatibility is a worthwhile endeavor, even if the governance 
is not shared.

Bryan J  Smith       Professional, Technical Annoyance 
Linked Profile:     http://www.linkedin.com/in/bjsmith 

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