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The Scope Guru meets “jolly” old St. Nick
December 21, 2011

Stolen from:

JL - Hi, Mr. Clause. My name is Jit Lim, I’m a senior technologist for a company called Tektronix.

SC - Mr. Clause? Don’t be so formal. Call me Santa. Can I call you Jit?

JL - Sure, Santa.

SC - Senior technologist, does that mean you’re an engineer?

JL - Close. As a senior technologist, I look at not only current technology but future technology, as well.

SC - So you’re responsible for creating new products? I’ve got to say that I’m a little perturbed about the speed at which you engineering types are launching new toys that people want for Christmas.

JL - Yes, I help make new products, but my company doesn’t actually make consumer goods. We make test equipment that makes it easier for companies to make those new toys. We like to say we “enable innovation.”

SC - Oh, so it’s your company and companies like yours that make it easier for all that new-fangled stuff to come out so fast?

JL - Well, yes. Is there a problem with that?

SC - Is there a problem?! You bet there’s a problem! What do you think goes on those lists I have to make every year? Toy soldiers? Dolls? Train sets! No. No. No. They want PlayStations, iPads, laptops. When kids started asking me for Wii’s I thought they needed to go to the bathroom, but it turns out it’s one of those new-fangled games.

JL - I don’t understand, Santa. What’s the problem?

SC - Do you know how fast those things change, “Mr. Enabling Innovation?” I can’t keep up. A perfect example is the iPad. It comes out in March of 2010, and by some miracle I was able to get my production up and running just in time for Christmas that year. I figured I get a jump-start on 2011 and start production early, and then in March they announce the iPad2. Do you know what it takes to re-train an elf?

JL - Well, no. But …

SC - I’ve got an excess inventory of iPads because I started producing too early and then I had to stop production and gear up for iPad2’s. Do you think Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace, gave me a call to give me a heads-up? Nope. He’s too busy innovating. No consideration for one of his most important supply chains.

JL - Don’t you just use magic fairy dust or wiggle your nose to make things happen?

SC - There is an element of magic involved, but fairy dust doesn’t grow on trees. It’s expensive stuff, and the subprime mortgage debacle hurt everybody, even me. And the fairies, they’ve begun to recognize that they have control over a limited resource, so they formed OEFD, the Organization for Exporting Fairy Dust. You complain about $100 a barrel, try paying for something by the thimble-full.

JL - But Santa, you’ve been doing this for years. Certainly you’ve been able to change with the times.

SC - The average age of my elves is over 200 years. I love working with them, but after the first 75 years they kind of get set in their ways and become harder to re-train. There’s no union, but I have 1,000 years of elf history to deal with. It’s bad mojo if you start messing with their traditions.

JL - I can understand and empathize with your production issues. But I’m sure you can understand that all companies are challenged with getting their products to market on time. Let’s talk about your legendary ride every year; it must be a lot of fun.

SC - Fun, you think it’s fun dipping and dodging around all of those hi-tech radars. It used to be that all I had to do was fly low, but nowadays with those new scatter and homing technologies it takes a lot of fairy dust to make sure I don’t end up with a SAM up my … tailpipe. And half the time, once I’ve made it to the house and down the chimney, don’t get me started about all the places that don’t have chimneys nowadays. Once I’m inside I have to worry about the latest “innovation” [he used finger quotes this time] in home-invasion gadgets. Do you think it easy for a portly fellow in a red suit to put presents under a tree and not set off the motion detector? Well, it isn’t. My nose gets raw from rubbing on it so hard, and my neck has a crick in it from nodding so much. There is only so much magic I can pull off in a given night.

SC - Innovation, new products, faster time to market–bah humbug! Yeah, I said it. You fellows need to slow down. You need to stop and smell …

Needless to say, Santa went on like this for another half-hour. I was barely able to get a word in the conversation. I was hoping to be able to give you some sage advice from an iconic figure in our society, but actually I can only think of a warning:

Take some time off this holiday season, reconnect with your family and friends, enjoy your time off, and, above all else, don’t invent anything new, at least not until the first of the year. If you do, you might end up on the naughty list and find coal in your stocking instead of that new smartphone you’ve been eyeing.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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