William A. Shurcliff's Advice on Corporate vs Independent Inventions

William A. Shurcliff provides a "top secret" paper called Parkinson's Principle of Pyramiding Pride explaining why there are differences in success rates between corporate vs independent inventions.

| September/October 1975

  • Number two pencil and pad
    And the second reason that Bill Shurcliff is an interesting guy is summed up in a "top secret" paper which he recently sent to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS offices.

  • Number two pencil and pad

William A. Shurcliff is quite an interesting fellow for at least a couple of reasons.

For one, he's the guy who puts together a constantly updated and revised (Bill is now up to something like Edition No. 9 or 10) guide entitled, Solar Heated Buildings: A Brief Survey. This overview of the field now lists approximately 120 sun-warmed and cooled structures currently being constructed or already in operation here in North America. The book lists the address, type of heating and/or air conditioning system, and percent of total warming and cooling energy provided by the sun for each building and — for less than $10.00 — is one of the absolutely most valuable references a solar freak can have.

And the second reason that Bill Shurcliff is an interesting guy is summed up in a "top secret" paper which he recently sent to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS offices. That paper, which for the first time reveals exactly how Parkinson's Principle of Pyramiding Pride applies to the development of solar heating systems, is reprinted below in its entirety. At last the truth can be revealed!

Corporate vs Independent Inventions and Parkinson's Principle of Pyramiding Pride

Every lone-wolf inventor — but no big-corporation executive — knows that when the U.S. Government hands over $500,000 to a big corporation to develop a reliable and cheap solar heating system, the corporation struggles valiantly and produces a system that is hopelessly complicated and expensive. 

Contrariwise, if a lone-wolf inventor, using his own savings, starts to design and build a solar heating system for his own house, he has a good chance of ending up with a system that does the job and costs little. 

Bewildered by this paradox, I consulted economists, engineers, and corporation heads. But to no avail. 

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