Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Friday, August 19, 2011

Once a Bureaucracy, Always a Bureaucracy

In 1967, when I was a graduating senior at the University of Nebraska, I interviewed just 3 companies: Honeywell, Raytheon, and Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Of the three, I was most impressed with Bell Labs and most appalled with Raytheon — a company that began in the early days of radio as a manufacturer of vacuum tubes, batteries and other electronic components. Today, Raytheon is a defense contractor best known for the Patriot Missiles that didn't perform so well during the first Gulf War.

The problem with Raytheon when I interviewed them back in the 1960s was that the corporate culture was hopelessly bureaucratic — a culture that is anathema to a high-tech research organization.

Last week, I was having lunch with some colleagues at BBN Systems and Technologies. BBN is the little company that invented the Internet some 40 years ago under a visionary contract from DARPA.

A few years ago, Raytheon acquired BBN Systems and Technologies and saddled it with their depressingly bureaucratic corporate culture.

I was waiting for the elevator in the lobby of BBN, when a Raytheon Security Guard noticed that I was wearing a Visitors Badge but was otherwise unescorted by any of those whom I was joining for lunch that day.

Here is the Raytheon Security Ticket issued to my host:

Raytheon Security Ticket

I suppose this episode scotches Wally's request to Raytheon Human Resources to re-issue me a badge as a Visiting Scientist so that I can join him and his colleagues for lunch without having to sign in each week and be escorted from the lobby to the cafeteria.

Update:  Wally reports that Raytheon Human Resources has declined to issue me a Visiting Scientist badge.