At first, TSR was run by gamers who knew very little about business. Later, TSR was run by business people who knew very little about gaming. Neither worked well.
Double posts aren't unusual. But 12 minutes apart? LOL.
Also, I hate Agile. I can see the benefit of Agile, but in my experience using it (I am a project manager for a large company), the actual amount of work you get done compared to waterfall is much less. Spending so much time talking about backlogs and burn down charts and stand up meetings, that you have less time to actually work on your project. Sprint planning never goes as planned or is finished on time, which causes delayed sign off, and people keep trying to change the acceptance criteria after user stories have been signed off. People seem to think that because there is no formalized and approved FSD or BRD, that means requirements are fluid and can change at any time, even after the QA process has begun. It's frustrating. But it's the big thing right now. Like Six Sigma (also garbage for any non-production line environments) was 15 years ago.
I roll to disbelieve.
I suspect Jim means the 1980s for getting the catalog material done farther in advance. In 1988, when I started with TSR, the company was already working with advance catalog copy and cover art. Editors and line heads had to provide summaries of content for each product, along with cover art orders, months ahead of time, frequently well before the books were written. (That's how you end up with the occasional cover-product mismatches, like Tantras, both novel and module. The Avatar covers were finished long before the novels and the modules.)
RPG Geek has entries for many of the TSR company catalogs from the late 80s and 90s here: https://rpggeek.com/rpgseries/19204/tsr-product-catalogues
Between 1988 and early 1994, when I stopped working with TSR, the overall movement had been to complete products earlier, for a variety of reasons (to provide near-finished books to fiction reviewers who wanted galleys six months before publication, to have more time to schedule for the best print costs, to increase overall schedule flexibility, and so on). By the mid-1990s, the company was completing RPG and fiction material farther ahead of ship date than they had in the late 1980s. And that meant an increase in the time gap between when the freelancers were being paid for a product and when the company brought in any money from that same product. (Random House typically paid TSR on ship.)
TSR's cash flow problems made themselves known outside the company by 1995 or early 1996, when the company started to pay bills late. By 1996, they had stopped paying me and many of the fiction authors the royalties that were due several times a year. They owed a long list of individual writers tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that's just the debt for late/unpaid fiction royalties. Freelancer payments of other sorts had become routinely late, too. As we know now, TSR was in a financial tailspin.
If a dictate on the production schedule--shortening up the time between project completion and ship--came down from upper management, that would have been why. The completion–ship gap would have been one of the few areas where TSR could control the pace of the cash outlay for products. Shortening the gap to one month is ludicrous, of course, but it would not have been unusual for management to go completely overboard on such a dictate. That's just speculation, though. I was outside the company at that point and did not see that dictate play out firsthand.
Having worked in companies that ran their key operations on JIT I twitch every time I see the phrase, because far too often in reality Just-In-Time ended up as Just-A-Bit-Late; which is a [female dog] when you're expected to make sales targets on product you don't have...As an accountant, Just-In-Time (JIT) is popular and can result in reduced storage costs.
The insiders's history of these events are fascinating, looking forward to more. On the Monty Haul thing, we were using the term by 1979-80 as I recall for some DnD games. I also recall a comic strip with it at some point. Wikipedia "Let's Make A Deal" with Monty Haul for those of you who weren't alive back then. You'll quickly understand why it was a derogatory term for some DnD games/campaigns.
It seems like a few of them were business people who knew very little about business.
The more I read about TSR's history the more I wonder just how it held together as long as it did.
A senior professor I knew in grad school had done a good bit of work on the topic of business failures. Especially a company that had a killer product generated by a founder can often last a long time on the momentum started that way, which can cover for a lot of business shenanigans. But yeah, TSR sure did seem to have some real problems along the way until they finally died.
It may be hard (and sobering for those of us of a certain age) to realize, but WotC has owned D&D for nearly as long as TSR. TSR went from 1974 to 1997, so 23 years, and WotC has owned it for 22....
Yeah, it's not like Scrooge McDuck levels, but D&D brought in a lot of money: in the end, it wasn't even lack of sales that seemed to do them in, but they overextended themselves in expenditure and loans...