Paul G. Allen

Coratena Ayala

Clemente Cisneros

Lori Griffith

Clay Baird

Oct 29, 2002

Critical Thinking Case Study 1:

TV/COMM International, Inc.

  1. Overview

TV/COMM International, Inc. was a multimillion-dollar satellite communications company, and was formerly a subsidiary of Oak Industries, Inc. In April of 1995, Paul Allen was hired as an Engineering Technician. Decisions over the course of the next two years, ultimately led to the demise of TV/COMM.

    1. Company

The company pioneered the development of sophisticated digital television transmission equipment in the early 1990's.

    1. Product

The product was the manufacturer of the analog television cable tuners that were found in many homes throughout the United States.

  1. Problem Analysis

    1. Faulty Engineering- the following factors contributed to the design:

1. Early designs of major portions of the system were poorly engineered.

2. In 1995 Hyundai Electronics America, Inc. (HEA) purchased TV/COMM after their previous capital investor filed for bankruptcy. The digital transmission system that TV/COMM had been developing was on the leading edge of technology.

  1. In 1990, approximately five years ahead of all other competitors in the market.

  2. The Hyundai Corporation saw the potential to enter the digital television market with an end-to-end solution.

  3. They spared no expense in the funding of TV/COMM's efforts.

B. Lack of Documentation were

1. Changes in prototype components amplified the various design issues.

2. Changes in core technology firmware caused changes in software.

3. There were no production documentations.

C. Administrative Problem were

1. Management style conflict- HEA stepped in and gave TV/COMM a blank check for continued R&D and manufacturing.

2. Management failed to acknowledge new design ideas- changes in prototype components amplified the various design issues; also, changes in core technology firmware caused changes in software.

  1. Lack of foresight- by 1994, TV/COMM's five-year lead had diminished to zero and by 1995, TV/COMM was competing directly with Scientific Atlanta, Inc. for market share of the United States in the television transmission industry.

  2. Management did not budget for redesign- TV/COMM had a system that far exceeded the capabilities of any competitor, and now they had the financial backing to improve and manufacture it as needed. Somehow, this was not enough because the early design problems began to rear their ugly heads. Their innovation of this new system was no surprise.

  1. Idea Production

In the early 1990's, TV/COMM engineers designed an MPEG-2 digital television transmission system.

        1. Should management redesign a new system? Yes/No

New design engineers and lead engineering technicians recognized all design problems.

        1. Pros- This system was so new that it relied upon electronics technology that had yet to be released to the general market and was still in its prototype and testing stages.

1. Management did not have the immediate cost

2. Therefore, the engineers did not continue to work on new products.

        1. CON's

          1. The company lost revenue because customers did to come back

          2. The original product could not be maintained.

          3. This is the nature of what is called R&D, or Research and Development.

  1. Evaluation

As units were produced in quantity, the severity of the problems was brought to light. Since the lack of documentation was recognized, management would not allow the design engineers and others who knew to produce the required documentation. New design engineers and lead engineering technicians recognized all design problems.

        1. What should the situation be?

1. Capital investments can firmly be fixed once the original investment decisions have been made.

2. Investments need to be managed or else they will inevitably be mismanaged.

3. Every dollar spent or invested should be analyzed first.

4. When a company buys a large quantity of spare parts, they should analyze weather those parts are being used because the product keeps breaking down and has to be fixed all the time.

        1. Invest engineering time in troubleshooting documentation

  1. Prescription for the solutions

    1. The answers address the issues from both points of view that should be the situation.

      1. Invest money for redesign

      2. Invest engineering time in troubleshooting documentation

B. Upgrade transmission system specifications

Works Consulted

Allen, Paul G. Case Studies. Random Logic Consulting. 29 October 2002 <>.

Browne, M. Neil, and Stuart M. Keeley. Critical Thinking: Asking the Right Questions. Needham Heights. Pearson Custom Publishing, 2000.

Hartogensis, John. John Hartogensis Web Site. 29 October 2002. <>.

McCall, Morgan W., jr., and Robert E. Kaplan. Whatever it takes. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Pearson Custom Publishing. Critical Thinking Web Site. University of Phoenix. 28 October 2002. <>.