The decisions involved in running any business are complex enough and have such profound consequences for employees, investors, and customers that to make cut and dried prescriptions is glib at best and irresponsible and destructive at worst. In the process of thinking about the issues that face Autodesk, and in discussions about specific decisions we have made and must make, I have come to the conclusion that I proceed from principles and assumptions about the nature of our business and company that are unusual and at variance with the consensus view of the software industry.
Some of these principles date back to the organisation of the company and before: the idea of developing multiple products and test-marketing, and the effrontery of attempting to start a company with virtually no financial capital were reflections of my belief in technological leverage, although I didn't call it that until last week. My concern with details, technological opportunities, and bottlenecks stems from belief in what I now refer to as ``quantum economics''. What I present here is as close an approximation as I can put on paper to the way I think about the issues that affect Autodesk. If the paper is complicated, it is because the issues interact with one another in subtle ways. If the paper seems repetitive, it is because it isn't enough to read about these issues and nod agreement or disagreement: you have to be able to pick them up, turn them around in your mind, see how they fit together, and comprehend how other matters interact with them. In writing this paper I have clarified and made explicit many beliefs I had employed intuitively before. I hope I can transmit enough of the principles I use to think about Autodesk's options, opportunities, and strategies that you can share my conclusions, dispute them on the grounds I used to arrive at them, or reject them with an understanding of the flaws in my reasoning.
Strategy is a lonely business; you never know enough to be confident about any decision and you never know if you're right until it's too late to change your mind. To plot any strategy, you must first know the terrain. If you accept the concept of the New Technological Corporation, then the first thing its management should realise is that they're running one. Proceeding from that realisation, and the fact that their company is therefore very different from most of the companies it competes with and from most stocks considered comparable by analysts, management can begin to examine specific decisions and strategic choices to make the most of the unique advantages conferred by being a member of a new generation of companies: perhaps the first to realise that fact and act to exploit it.
If the management of a New Technological Corporation, fully aware of its financial and competitive strengths, deploys those advantages to the company's benefit, their enterprise will in all likelihood not just be unique, but uniquely successful in the long term.
Editor: John Walker