The Inbox

Sharing a Vision

In his message in the Winter 2011 issue, Dean Thomas S. Robertson commented on the faculty’s approval of a new vision for MBA education. He noted that the new curriculum reflects the “evolving landscape requiring anticipation” and adaptation to change. Such vision of the interrelated global nature of changing economic and social systems is invaluable for academic institutions developing leaders and innovative thinkers, I believe. Wharton’s position in the world renders such vision of particular importance.

William Boyd Katz, W’60

DePreist: ‘A Great Person’

It was great to read your article on James DePreist (Winter 2011). He would have made a great lawyer as well as a great maestro. I had the pleasure of teaming up with Jim on our thesis for the pre-law requirement at Wharton. A great person who never let his disability hold him back.

Theodore Rich Jr., W’58

More on Deepwater

I read the extended article, “The Lessons of Deepwater,” (Fall 2010) on the website. The comment about drilling on the Thames seems quite accurate.

BP’s mess appears to be the consequence of a “success-oriented schedule.” I’ve encountered these types of schedules and they are usually driven in a top-down manner, with no real discussion about the realistic nature of the schedule, no consideration of setbacks and no contingency planning. The apparent breakdown in communications between the various players is usually a consequence of trying to do too much in too short a time frame. Often the environment for choosing which project to fund is hypercompetitive and unrealistic plans are made to get the resources to do the project with the assumption that, “We can work out all that once we get started.” By then, it’s frequently too late and the project team is committed to a set of unrealistic goals and problems then mount. Often the goals of the players on the team are different and this makes the situation worse. In the case of the BP oil spill, three different companies with different goals were all involved doing quite difficult work. It’s not surprising that the well failed, it’s just surprising that it does not happen more often. Thanks for the great magazine.

David B. Fitzgerald, MD, WG’80

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