Incidents and Accidents, Hints and Allegations
movie reviews
journal archives
journal home
atom feed
        i n c i d e n t s
            e     h      
            n     i      
a l l e g a t i o n s    
            s     t      

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Bill Swanson of Raytheon is a Plagiarist!

The following is a letter I submitted this morning to USA Today in response to THIS ARTICLE they ran a few days ago.


In your article entitled "CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character" by Del Jones, you list 33 "Unwritten Rules" of Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson.

However, it should be mentioned to your readers that nearly all of these "unwritten rules" have indeed been written -- by another author in fact, sixty years ago. Mr. Swanson has plagiarized from the little-known book "The Unwritten Laws of Engineering" by W.J. King (1944, American Society of Mechanical Engineers), trying to pass off others’ work as his own. Perhaps there is a new rule he needs to swallow about taking credit for other people's work. Or perhaps this sort of thing has been his recipe for success in corporate America and, for him, stepping on the genius of others is business as usual.

Here’s just a partial list of the rules that were lifted verbatim from the text of “The Unwritten Laws of Engineering”:

- "Cultivate the habit of 'boiling matters down' to their simplest terms."
- "Do not get excited in engineering emergencies -- keep your feet on the ground."
- "Cultivate the habit of making brisk, clean-cut decisions."
- "Promises, schedules, and estimates are necessary and important instruments in a well-ordered business"
- "Be careful about whom you mark for copies of letters, memos, etc. when the interests of other departments are involved."
- "In dealing with customers and outsiders remember that you represent the company ... be careful of you commitments."
- "Be extremely careful of the accuracy of your statements."
- "Don't overlook the fact that you're working for your boss."
- "Be as particular as you can in the selection of your boss."
- "Strive for conciseness and clarity in oral and written reports."
- "Don't be timid -- speak up -- express yourself and promote your ideas."
- "Confirm your instructions and the other fellow's commitments in writing. Do not assume that the job will be done..."
- "However menial and trivial your early assignments may appear give them your best efforts."
- "In carrying out a project do not wait for foremen, vendors, and others to deliver the goods; go after them and keep everlastingly after them."

The list of similarities and exact quotations goes on and on. This is a particularly serious infraction that deserves the attention and correction of your editorial department.


Carl Durrenberger, San Diego
Chemical Engineer


posted 3:48 PM


Anonymous Nicanor

It is just like one of those ceo bastards to steal another's work. What rot. Why stop with money. I don't think this is what Elliott meant when he said; ‘talent borrows, genius steals.’

posted 3:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

I just pointed the Raytheon General Counsel to your website. :)

posted 6:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

it's called leveraging

posted 8:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

You can buy your own copy of the book, The Unwritten Laws of Engineering at amazon.


Oh yeah, and was that tongue in cheek, or was the pp serious when he suggested (asserted) that calling it something else
makes it something other than plagiarism?


posted 9:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

Carl I would like to hear USA Today's response to this, please post for us if they do.

posted 12:33 PM

Blogger Simon

I thought the word 'engineering' in "Do not get excited in engineering emergencies -- keep your feet on the ground." seemed out of place...

posted 1:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

thanks to the web - informtaion is no longer power in the hands of a few - we need more ceo's w/o clothes exposed.

posted 4:36 AM

Blogger K.R.Srivarahan

Intellectual dishonesty ;reengineered plagiarism.

posted 6:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

Shame on Mr. Swanson! I wonder how Cal Poly would react knowing one of it's "distinguished" alumni is a plagarist? Have they been told? Are his kids "proud" of their dad's dishonesty? His parents? Hang him out to dry and thank you for your diligence! Signed, A fellow now-disgusted engineer

posted 7:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

Plagiarization is one of the tenets of "Six Sigma", this is no surprise. I'd hate to be Bill's ghost writer on this vain little PR project, someone must be held accountable for this abuse of copyrighted material, and Bill is probably pretty pissed.

posted 9:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

It'd be pretty hard to blame Bill's "ghostwriter" since they were taken from bill's notes.

Also, hey Carl, front page of today's NYT business section!


posted 9:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

Swanson said "For me, the originality of the material was never the rules themselves, but my expression of them in terms of my experience over the years".

These are the words of a man who has spoken with a lawyer versed in copyright law. Copyright protects expression of an idea.

posted 10:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

Embarrassing and disgraceful. Mr. Swanson should be ashamed and should be held formally accountable by Raytheon shareholders and employees for his egregious behavior. I am amazed this has not gotten more attention (Wall Street Journal?)—especially since the company is a US Government contractor! More airtime has been given this week to the 19 year old Harvard student accused this past week of plagiarizing her teen novel. This gentleman is CEO of a Top 100 US Corporation and is getting a slap on the wrist!

Grade school children get suspended for copying their homework, yet according to Forbes magazine, Swanson was paid over $5.9 mil last year. This book is widely circulated throughout the company--even within it's own Leadership Development Programs! Would this be the type of behavior you would want passed along to future leaders in your company?

Come on. Mr. Swanson’s attempt to save face through his PR department’s public statement is a joke to the business community and the over 85,000 employees who work for Raytheon. Furthermore, tying distribution of the ‘Rules’ booklet to acceptance of donations to MathCounts (a charity encouraging math education within elementary and high schools) as being done on the corporate website is a shameful and appalling act of self-promotion. Perhaps a donation towards ethics awareness education would be more in order.

More needs to be said about this. The public should not sit idle and let this action slide under the rug as it appears will be done. A public example needs to be set of Mr. Swanson showing that this type of conduct is unacceptable in the business world—indeed anywhere—and that no matter how much you make or what your stature, you still are responsible for your own actions or lack there of.

posted 10:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

It is just like one of those ceo bastards to steal another's work. What rot. Why stop with money. I don't think this is what Elliott meant when he said; ‘talent borrows, genius steals.’

posted 9:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

Well it seems that the media and public are letting Bill Swanson off the hook. Interesting that none of the media articles point out that Bill worked at GE for years, as did the engineer who he stole 75% of the rules from. I don't believe that he got these off random notes taken over the years. He's just another self promoting, self aggrandizing overly paid CEO who should be asked to step down. What else has he lied about? Graft among government contractors is well know. But who ultimately pays? - you ane me - the tax payer. It's disgusting.

posted 6:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

Here's an interview Swanson gave to USA Today in 2005 in which he clearly implies he wrote the rules. See especially: "we sat down with a tape recorder..."

posted 8:00 AM

Blogger jonathan

Carl, the best way to pay Bill back is to encourage people to Google bomb him. Anyone who cares about an engineer being screwed by an unrepentent executive should post a link on their blogs tying his name to this post. I've done so here

posted 6:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

I received a copy of the unwritten rules of engineering when I was a senior in electrical engineering at Penn State in 1976. Now I distribute the rules, with proper citation, to the senior electrical engineering design class I teach.

posted 6:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

While the plagiarism is certainly unfortunate, you have to remember that this guy never sold the book; he gave it away!

So this guy had no incentive for plagiarizing; he never made a dime off of it, nor did he even realize that his little book would become so popular.

It is entirely possible that Swanson read, collected, and internalized all of these aphorisms throughout the years, and then put them down on paper, without intending any sort of plagiarism. I mean, the book that Swanson plagiarized is from 1944, not exactly a recent release!

But the bottom line is still the bottom line: he never sold the book, never made any money off of the book.

posted 7:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

But the bottom line is still the bottom line: he never sold the book, never made any money off of the book.

It's still plagiarism.

Actually, he probably did intend to make money off these aphorisms. He was trying to enhance his future value as a fee-charging after dinner speaker


posted 12:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

Wow. You guys have way to much time on your hands and need something better to do. I've read both Swansons unpublished book "The Unwritten Rules of Management" (or free pamphlet) is more like it and the published "Unwritten Laws of Engineering". I'm an engineer too and I can't believe how out of proportion you are making this. So what if some the Titles of the rules are the same and I say TITLES because it is only the titles of the rules that are the same. The description on how the rules apply are completely different. Don't believe me, read it yourself, Swanson's book is FREE! F R E E. Everyone here has done more "plagarising" than that when they were in grammar school.

posted 4:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

In 1984, as a new engineer at General Dynamics, I received a copy of the original work by King, which was properly attributed to the author. (No comment on whether there was a copyright issue with that reproduction.)

Swanson is a Cal Poly Grad, which one, Pomona or SLO? (Cal Poly SLO goes by California Polytechnic State University, Cal Poly Pomona goes by California State Polytechnic University, so if the CEO bio at the Raytheon site is literally precise, he would be an SLO grad.) Many Cal Poly Pomona engineering students ended up working at GD Pomona division, which made missiles, later bought by Hughes Aircraft, then later became part of Raytheon. Did he rise up through GD or start originally at Raytheon?

Could be that Swanson obtained the King book from a variety of places. Maybe Raytheon made a habit of distributing the book to its engineers also. Maybe he acquired it along with the missile division originally part of GD. Swanson was at one time manager of the missile systems division, likely came across the King book there if not before.

I still have the copy of the book on my shelf. Always thought that was an interesting collection of thoughts. Glad I saved it all these years.

The new version of the King book, with revisions and additions, was published by ASME in 2001 (the one available at Amazon). Check out copyright registration number TX-5-405-700.

I'm glad to see that a Cal Poly grad rose to the top, sorry to see our school name in the mess.

There is no way this was an accidental memory, the rules that Swanson used must have been written down from the original King book. The probability of coming up with same words on his own is just too slim. They laws are even in a similar order as in the King work.

The law of copyright infringement is well settled: access to the original work coupled with substantial similarity of the works equals infringement. Good chance he had access to the original work, the similarity seems clear also.

Swanson either lifted these laws from King directly, or lifted them from someone else that lifted them from King. In either case, Swanson did not give attribution to the source and claimed them as his own.

posted 11:28 AM

Blogger Mark Graban

Check out the postcard that Raytheon sends out now if you request the Swanson book:

posted 8:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous

Rule No. 2 "It is easier to stay out than to get out" is from
Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897), 1.18 Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

It is still an important rule in life.

posted 4:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous [url][/url] [url=]yahoos[/url] yahoos [url][/url] [url=]msns[/url] msns [url][/url] [url=]msns[/url] msns [url][/url] [url=]googler[/url] googler [url][/url] [url=]yahoos[/url] yahoos [url][/url] [url=]msns[/url] msns [url][/url] [url=]yahoos[/url] yahoos [url][/url] [url=]googler[/url] googler [url][/url] [url=]yahoos[/url] yahoos [url][/url] [url=]msns[/url] msns

posted 5:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous


posted 5:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous

Yep, Swanson's a crook - he even expilictly tried to claim ownership of the rules. A rule or two may match others', but a whole slew of them? In one of the rules he even forgot to replace the word engineering!

Whoever wants media to highlight it widely is living a hopeful dream. Media is paid by the likes of Swanson. You may, however, write widely and decide to not consume the ads produced by the offending media. Use $$$ and not words to convince media.

posted 9:59 AM

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?