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MIS-adventures of Pops Kringle (Daniel P Dern)
(topical, smirk)

My "MIS-adventures of 'Pops' Kringle" columns have been running
annually in InformationWeek for the past five years.  Here's this 
years, which should have appeared somewhat modified (edited, that 
is) in the December 19, 1992 issue of InformationWeek on the back 
"Final Word" page, under the title, "Down and Out at the North Pole".  

                 Santa Steps Out for the Holidays

                (c) Copyright 1992 Daniel P. Dern

     May be reproduced and distributed freely in unmodified form 
     on a noncommercial basis PROVIDED THAT this notice remains 
     intact.  All rights reserved; contact author (Daniel Dern,, 617-969-7947) for any other intended 
     usage, e.g., reprinting in trade or general press.  Enjoy!

As I was making my way through the ice-lined hallways of the 
North Pole Toy Works for my annual pre-holiday interview with CEO 
and founder "Pops" Kringle, I found my way blocked by a large 
crowd of reporters. 

I elbowed a few camerapersons aside just in time to hear Pops' 
voice on the P.A.: "-- and so, after thirty-eight years, I 
conclude there's nothing left for me to do ... except say, 
Goodbye, and good luck to the elves and others staying here." 

"Mr. Kringle?" called out someone I couldn't see near the front.  
"What are your plans now?"

"Plans?"  I could almost hear Pops thinking.  "I don't really 
have any.  Go ice fishing, I guess." 

"Are you taking the reindeer with you?" yelled out another.

"No, they're a company asset."  He sighed, and I heard him turn 
to leave.  "That's all, ladies, gentlemen and sprites." 

A small hand tugged at my belt. "This way," a waist-high elf 
said quietly.  "Pops told us to bring you through."   Behind me, 
I heard:  "Who's taking over for you?" "Are you selling your 


Pops was already in his office, his coat draped across the sofa 
arm, collar-button open and feet on his desk, while images 
danced unnoticed on color monitors.  He motioned me to a chair 
and waved his hand at a thermal pitcher of egg nog.

"First Superman and now this -- is nothing sacred?" I asked, 
leaning back into the chair.  "Why are you stepping down?"

Pops set down his glass of cheer and sighed.  "I got tired of fighting 
and losing.  These past years, it seems no matter what we did, it 
wasn't enough.  Downsizing, upsizing, re-engineering, enterprise 
zones, Total Quality Management, spinning off the reindeer and 
outsourcing, Just-In-Time inventory... I began to feel we were 
slaves to a Paradigm-Shift-of-the-Month cult, without anything to 
show for it except more scars, lower margins and fewer jobs.

"Sure, we did a lot of innovative things which I'm really proud 
of: Lotus Notes versions of trivia games, the Virtual Reality 
Etch-a-Sketch, and the SNMP-based model railroad."  Pops sat up a 
little, and I could see a hint of the fire he'd had all the 
previous times we'd met, no matter whether he'd been up or down. 

"We even tried adding Windows, but everything kept demanding more 
batteries, and still kept crashing.  And they didn't want to 
play with anything else."

"It sounds like you were making all the right moves product-
wise," I said, reaching for more eggnog.  "What was the problem?" 

"Everything," answered Pops.  "Lawsuits, power outages, the EEO 
report claiming we didn't have enough women and minority elves, 
walruses eating the fiber ground links ... and last week, our 
naughty/nice lists got sub-poenaed, because of the rumor that 
someone leaked a few candidate and staff records during the 
election campaigns.  Ha!--like the real juicy parts would be 

"If something failed to go wrong, I don't want to know what we 
missed -- or rather, missed us. 

"And during all this, we had to 'terminate' so many people to 
please the bean-counters our productivity went to hell in a 
handbasket.  My estimate is that our real losses in productivity, 
quality and morale far outweigh what we've 'saved' -- and there's 
no telling how much of our 'corporate memory' we've lost."  He 
shook his head slowly.  "It's unfortunate there's no red-nosed 
reindeer to follow in running a business."

"So what are your plans?" 

"Well, I do plan to take a month or two off to decompress.  Maybe 
go to someplace warm.  After that?"  His eyes got a far-away 
look.  "Maybe speak at some conventions, do some consulting.  
There's a number of technology transfer projects I've been too 
busy to pursue, like selling our naughty/nice lists on CD-ROM -- 
and the evaluation technology we use, which incorporates some 
very hot heuristics.  Put that on an Alpha-based server and you'd 
have an incredible marketing tool.

"I'm also thinking of applying for a position on Al Gore's 
'National Data Superhighway' initiative."  Pops' eyes twinkled 
briefly.  "After all, who knows more about getting to every 
person and place effectively, and what people want, than I do?" 

"Who indeed?" I echoed, raising my glass.  "Happy holidays, and 
an entrepreneurial New Year!"

(A free-lance technology writer based in Newton Centre, Mass., 
Daniel P. Dern has been covering Pops Kringle for InformationWeek 
since 1988.)

                             - END -

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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