Control Data Corporation

Seymour Cray found his company, Control Data Corporation, failing due to overspecialization in computing speed. As a remedy the developer of the supercomputer chose more specialization, not diversity or innovation, thereby falling into a rut from which the company, CDC, never emerged. Wang, another leader in the computer industry, suffered a similar fate. Danny Miller, in The Icarus Paradox recounts similar problems at Polaroid, ITT and other companies.

Miller notes that the paradox has two main features: "The first is that success can lead to failure. …The second …the very causes of success, when extended, may become the causes of failure." There are clear parallels between Miller’s assessment of behavior in the business community and the pattern of societal advancement followed by crippling environmental degradation.

Is this behavior pattern consistent enough to merit the label `syndrome'? The blind spot syndrome? The doom syndrome? It is a paradoxical condition—especially in the environmental context—hence the expression progress trap.


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"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)