When the Leader Hits the Wall: A Case of Organizational Paralysis

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Like many good ideas and eventual multi-million-dollar companies, “the dot” started out as the hobby of a graduate student, Bob Dessing, earning his Ph.D in Computer Science.

“Look at this,” Bob called to his then-girlfriend and later-wife, Sandra. He stuck an adhesive plastic dot, half the size of a dime, onto the recessed bottom of a bottle of wine on their kitchen counter.

“Let me guess,” Sandra smiled. “That dot tells me if the wine has a bad cork or has turned to vinegar.”

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“Better,” Bob beamed. He pulled a simple hand-held barcode scanner from his briefcase. A couple protruding wires and assorted solder marks told Sandra immediately that this was no ordinary scanner.

With considerable flourish, Bob swept the scanner past the bottle of wine, about two feet away. He pointed to the letters appearing on the digital readout of the device: “Dry Creek Chardonnay, 2007, purchased 1/22/2008 $16, today’s retail $32.”

“So … “Sandra stroked her cheek. “What, we can now get a daily reading on the value of our four bottles of wine? Bob, how much time have you spent on this?”

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