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The TANDBERG Way of Engineering

Olve Maudal
September 04, 2019

The TANDBERG Way of Engineering

Tandberg Telecom, also known as just TANDBERG - the videoconferencing company - was a very successful organization started from scratch around 1990 and then, during the next two decades, effectively competing and systematically outperforming all other market players in the videoconferencing industry. By 2010, TANDBERG was a billion dollar business with a 50% marketshare and 1700 employees worldwide. In April 2010, TANDBERG was aquired by the american tech behemoth Cisco Systems for 19 billion norwegian kroners (3.3 billion USD).



TANDBERG (1990-2010) was a legendary success that deserves to be praised and studied. TANDBERG was characterized by a unique organization culture, a fantastic sales force, very competent and charismatic leadership, but perhaps first of all, it had an engineering team that was able to churn out spectacular and successful products.

by Olve Maudal, a 60 minute talk at NDC TechTown, Kongsberg, September 4, 2019

Olve Maudal

September 04, 2019
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  1. Tandberg Telecom, also known as just TANDBERG - the videoconferencing company - was a very successful organization started from scratch
    around 1990 and then, during the next two decades, effectively competing and systematically outperforming all other market players in the
    videoconferencing industry. By 2010, TANDBERG was a billion dollar business with a 50% marketshare and 1700 employees worldwide. In April
    2010, TANDBERG was aquired by the american tech behemoth Cisco Systems for 19 billion norwegian kroners (3.3 billion USD).


    TANDBERG (1990-2010) was a legendary success that deserves to be praised and studied. TANDBERG was characterized by a unique
    organization culture, a fantastic sales force, very competent and charismatic leadership, but perhaps first of all, it had an engineering team that
    was able to churn out spectacular and successful products.
    by Olve Maudal, a 60 minute talk at NDC TechTown, Kongsberg, September 4, 2019
    The Way
    of engineering

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  2. • History of TANDBERG (1990-2010)
    • Example of a product - The C90 (aka Saturn)
    • Observations from TANDBERG
    • Principles for effective product development
    • Q&A

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  3. • History of TANDBERG (1990-2010)
    • Example of a product - The C90 (aka Saturn)
    • Observations from TANDBERG
    • Principles for effective product development
    • Q&A

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  4. Tandberg Display
    Tandberg Storage
    Tandberg Romfart
    Tandberg Data
    Tandberg Carwash & Pizza

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  5. +
    =
    ca 1990
    Jan Chr Opsahl Videofonprosjektet

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  6. TANDBERG’s first proper product (ca 1991)
    3

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  7. 1993
    1995
    1997
    1995
    1997
    1997
    TANDBERG (1993-1999)

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  8. 2000
    2002
    2001
    2002
    TANDBERG (2000-2008)
    2004
    2004
    2006
    2006
    2004
    2004

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  9. 2008 2009
    2009
    2009
    TANDBERG (2008-2010)
    2010
    2009
    2009

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  10. 0
    1
    2
    3
    4
    0
    250
    500
    750
    1000
    1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009
    Revenue (MUSD)

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  11. 0
    125
    250
    375
    500
    0
    250
    500
    750
    1000
    1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009
    (the numbers are approximately right)
    Revenue (MUSD) # Engineers

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  12. 0
    125
    250
    375
    500
    0
    250
    500
    750
    1000
    1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009
    (the numbers are approximately right)
    Revenue (MUSD) # Engineers

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  13. #2 in 2008
    #1 in 2009
    #1 in 2010

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  14. Presseklipp 19. April 2010
    TANDBERG solgt for 19 mrd NOK til
    amerikanske Cisco Systems

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  15. • History of TANDBERG (1990-2010)
    • Example of a product - The C90 (aka Saturn)
    • Observations from TANDBERG
    • Principles for effective product development
    • Q&A

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  16. TANDBERG Codec C90 (aka Saturn)

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  17. HD input
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    HD output
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    HD input
    HD output

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  18. HD input
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    HD output
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    H.264
    HD input
    HD output

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  19. • 1 Altera Cyclone III 120 for Audio switching
    (Nios II softcore 50 MHz)
    • 9 TI 6727, audio dsp for echo control,
    compression, decompression, +++
    • PowerPC 8347, main processor, application
    software, networking, user interface
    • 3543 components / 15659 pins
    • 16 layers
    • 3264 nets
    C90 MAIN BOARD

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  20. • 10 Da Vinci DM6467 for video compression/
    decompresion(1 ARM, 1 dsp, 2 coprocessors),
    • 5 Altera Cyclone III 120 for video scaling &
    composing(Nios II softcore 50 MHz)
    • 15 Gbps video backplane
    • 3.8 GByte DDR2 RAM
    • 128 mbit x5 SDRAM
    • 6097 components
    • 30520 pins
    • 22 layers
    • 6490 nets
    C90 VIDEO BOARD

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  21. •analog amplification
    •high quality AD and DA converters
    •pure electronics, no processor/SW
    •717 components
    •6 layers
    C90 AUDIO EXTENSION BOARD

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  22. • 10000+ components
    • 44 (6+22+16) layers
    • 56 processor cores
    • several million lines of code (C and C++)
    C90 - from a geek point of view

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  23. • Developed at Lysaker
    • Started spring 2007
    • First HW prototype arrived summer 2008
    • Released late 2008 (~20 months of development)
    • 2-3 people working with mechanics/design
    • 4-5 people working with electronics/hardware
    • 5-6 people working with FPGA development
    • 40-50 people working with software development
    • 4-5 test developers
    • 1 person working with approvals
    TANDBERG Codec C90

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  24. • Continuous planning
    • Always attack high risks first
    • Heavy focus on effective feedback mechanisms
    • Visualization of actual status throughout project
    • Teams: GUI, App, Protocol, Video, Audio, FPGA,
    Platform, QA, Support
    • Parallel development
    • Iterations and time-boxing
    • Daily 15 minute morning assembly of elders
    • Weekly rendezvous meetings
    • Early and many prototypes
    Development Practices in the Saturn project

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  25. March 2010
    “For most of my life I wanted a Porsche, now I think I
    want a Tandberg EX90 instead.” Wainhouse Research

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  26. PC based solutions

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  27. Networking products

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  28. And a lot of other stuff

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  29. • History of TANDBERG (1990-2010)
    • Example of a product - The C90 (aka Saturn)
    • Observations from TANDBERG
    • Principles for effective product development
    • Q&A

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  30. Development Process?

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  31. Development Process?

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  32. As an engineer joining TANDBERG...

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  33. •No documentation
    •No routines
    •Fooling around
    •Not following plans
    •Decision are postponed
    •Nobody decides
    •Little respect for management
    •Little modularization
    •Lack of precision
    •Sloppiness
    •People not working hard
    for many, this was the first impression...

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  34. •No documentation
    •No routines
    •Fooling around
    •Not following plans
    •Decision are postponed
    •Nobody decides
    •Little respect for management
    •Little modularization
    •Lack of precision
    •Sloppiness
    •People not working hard
    but then you started to notice...
    •People communicate
    •Focus on important stuff
    •Embedded slack
    •Continuous planning
    •Effective decisions
    •Autonomous organisation
    •Respect for doers
    •No integration period
    •Spectacular products
    •Deliver early
    •Sustainable pace

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  35. •No documentation
    •No routines
    •Fooling around
    •Not following plans
    •Decision are postponed
    •Nobody decides
    •Little respect for management
    •Little modularization
    •Lack of precision
    •Sloppiness
    •People not working hard
    •People communicate
    •Focus on important stuff
    •Embedded slack
    •Continuous planning
    •Effective decisions
    •Autonomous organisation
    •Respect for doers
    •No integration period
    •Spectacular products
    •Deliver early
    •Sustainable pace
    ... and while you still saw the "negative" stuff, you
    started to appreciate the "positive" stuff even more.

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  36. • People communicate
    • Focus on important stuff
    • Embedded slack
    • Continuous planning
    • Effective decisions
    • Autonomous organisation
    • Respect for doers
    • No integration period
    • Spectacular products
    • Deliver early
    • Sustainable pace
    Observations from TANDBERG
    Agile?
    Lean?
    Deming?
    Scrum?

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  37. • People communicate
    • Focus on important stuff
    • Embedded slack
    • Continuous planning
    • Effective decisions
    • Autonomous organisation
    • Respect for doers
    • No integration period
    • Spectacular products
    • Deliver early
    • Sustainable pace
    Observations from TANDBERG

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  38. Negative and Positive Components

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  39. everything has a negative component ...

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  40. ... as well as a positive component

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  41. so if you want to improve something...

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  42. ... do not just try to fix the negative stuff ...

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  43. ... without also understanding how it will affect the
    positive component
    ?
    ?
    ?
    ?
    ?

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  44. because you might end up by reducing the positive
    component by even more

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  45. mediocre organizations often have a profile like this
    great organizations might have profiles that looks like this
    “Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your
    opportunities is the only way to become great.” (Good to Great, Collins, 2001) !

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  46. • History of TANDBERG (1990-2010)
    • Example of a product - The C90 (aka Saturn)
    • Observations from TANDBERG
    • Principles for effective product development
    • Q&A

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  47. Few high tech projects are like running
    down on a paved road where you can see the ...

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  48. ... goal in the end of the road.

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  49. Typical projects are more like...

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  50. extreme orienteering

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  51. in difficult terrain

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  52. with a group of people

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  53. with only a sketchy map as guidance

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  54. and you should all end up at the cabin... together!

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  55. Embrace chaos

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  56. Celebrate the organization (not individuals, nor teams)

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  57. Admire the doers (and create an autonomous organization)

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  58. Focus on communication (over documentation)

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  59. Introduce slack
    If your company’s goal is to become fast, responsive, and agile, more
    efficiency is not the answer--you need more slack. (Tom DeMarco)

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  60. Beware the observer effect

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  61. Use constraints to set direction
    “Det kan du bare drite i”
    (no f&*^* way)
    Per Haug Kogstad
    (arguably the most influencial person and
    key driver behind TANDBERGs success.)

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  62. Break the rules
    “Man skal bryte regler!”
    (you should break rules!)
    fuck you!

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  63. Reward courage (and failures)

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  64. Focus on the whole product
    system thinking vs reductionism

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  65. Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth. – Mike Tyson
    Continuous planning
    Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential – Winston Churchill
    Plans are nothing; planning is everything. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
    No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. – Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

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  66. Aim for approximately right rather than accurately wrong

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  67. Release early and release often

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  68. Seek early feedback
    Pixar - our films are never finished, they are just released

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  69. Never reveal your next products

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  70. Avoid corporate standards and procedures

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  71. Focus on execution, forget about innovation initiatives

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  72. Collective ownership

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  73. No time writing or detailed cost control
    "What we don't do is treat our employees like they're all, you
    know, criminals,"
    (Jenn Mann, SAS Institute)

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  74. Build the company on trust

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  75. Hire for passion, attitude and skills

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  76. • Embrace chaos
    • Celebrate the organization, not individuals
    • Admire the doers
    • Focus on communication
    • Introduce slack
    • Beware the observer effect
    • Use constraints to set direction
    • Break the rules
    • Reward courage
    • Focus on the whole product
    • Continuous planning
    • Aim for approximately right
    • Release early, release often
    • Seek early feedback
    • Never reveal your next products
    • Avoid corporate standards
    • Focus on execution
    • Collective ownership
    • No time writing or detailed cost control
    • Build the company on trust
    • Hire for passion, attitude and skills
    The Way of engineering

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  77. • History of TANDBERG (1990-2010)
    • Example of a product - The C90 (aka Saturn)
    • Observations from TANDBERG
    • Principles for effective product development
    • Epilogue
    • Q&A

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  78. Did Cisco destroy it all?

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  79. No!
    (of course not)

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  80. The engineering team at Lysaker is stronger than ever

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  81. The current product portfolio is beyond spectacular

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  82. Unboxing and Logistics

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  83. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligene

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  84. Snorre Kjesbu
    (the key driver for successfully transferring TANDBERG into the Cisco machinery... and vice versa...)

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  85. Corporate Spring
    Prox Dynamics Avizia
    Media Network Services Pexip
    Surface Dynamics
    Electric White
    Skiwo
    Seevia
    Huddly
    Acano
    Synergy Sky
    Videonor
    Vaion
    Jazz Networks
    Videxio
    Starleaf
    PiOctave
    Minuendo
    Spotics Oivi
    Vaion
    NNNN

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  86. Other questions?

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  87. “Jeg var arbeidsløs og startet med en tom ølkasse” (Jan Christian Opsahl)
    «Jeg fungerte ikke under Gerhard Heiberg.
    Ledelsesfilosofien i Aker er at sjefen tar alle
    beslutninger i all sin visdom. Deretter utfører
    slavene ordre.»
    «Vi vingler fra grøftekant til grøftekant, og når vi
    så beslutter, har vi en så jævlig fart at vi treffer
    med 180 km i timen. Men da er vi også fremme
    før de andre har startet.»
    «Hvis vi leverer 100 prosent kvalitet, så går vi
    konkurs. Vi må gå inn for 99,99 prosent, det er
    omtrent hva vi har råd til. Den siste 0,1
    prosenten blir rett og slett for dyr. I elektronikk
    må det være rom for feilmargin.»
    AUTONOMY
    MOMENTUM
    APPROXIMATELY RIGHT

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