Laid-back management style
Goodnight focused on programming, which he enjoys, and publishing scholarly papers in SAS's early years, only later emerging as a leader with what he describes as a "quite laid-back" management style.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Jim Goodnight, July 22, 1999. Interview I-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
JM: Did your professional tasks in the office have you closely involved day to day or was he doing one set of tasks and you were doing another?
JG: We were pretty much programming, still at that time all the time. That was my number one task, was programming. I was doing some statistical research because I was still publishing papers at the time. We felt it was important. If SAS was going to be known in the statistical world, we ought to do research papers and have them published in scientific journals. I was doing some of that. Mostly I continued to develop the system.
JM: Let me ask about your advance into this world of leader of SAS, I think back around '79, '80, early '80s. I'm presuming from the kinds of things you're telling me, that you wouldn't have stopped at that time and reflected self-consciously on your leadership style. You would've just gone about doing the sorts of things you felt comfortable doing. How do you think folks would've described your leadership style back then? What were your habits and practices?
JG: My management style is quite laid-back. I believe very much in letting other people take as much responsibility as they want in the company. I would be happy if I just stayed in my office and programmed all day, to tell you the truth. That is my one real love in life is programming. Programming is sort of like getting to work a puzzle all day long. I actually enjoy it. It's a lot of fun. It's not even work to me. It's just enjoyable. You get to shut out all your other thoughts and just concentrate on this little thing you're trying to do, to make work it. It's nice, very enjoyable.