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Can Italian Component Maker Campagnolo Survive?


Stashed in: Tech biz, Cycling!

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Long feature on the artisanal history and business practices of Campagnolo, which makes high-end gearing mechanisms for racing bicycles. Relevant to technical entrepreneurs:

"It's almost impossible to have effective R&D without also being involved in the day-to-day manufacturing. R&D isn't about a group of smart people sitting in a room thinking deeply about a new bicycle wheel. It's a result of being so immersed in the details that you find a way to weld something a half-percent better."

As a technical manager I've struggled tremendously with the question of having remote developers -- an idea which has tremendous appeal to me in theory, but I've never been able to make it work in practice. (This does not apply to functions like operations or DBA which have a strong 24/7 monitoring aspect, and therefore having someone halfway around the world can actually offer additional value over having the same person locally.) But gee... if Campagnolo, which basically invented the derailleur, thinks that they need to have all R&D and production in the same room to facilitate innovation... then what hope is there for remote development in extremely fluid, experimental social software?

Social software makers have text messaging, instant messaging, email, and Skype.

Physical technology might require physical presence.

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