Epic's next principle is 5: Be frugal.
Good advice, but I don't think Epic actually follows it.
Dictionary.com defines frugal as:
economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful
Epic is not that. Epic wastes money (not in large sums, at least not that I've been privy to) on lots of little things that add up. Epic wastes its employees' time, and it wastes its employees in general.
I remember when I was working there, every office received its own Dymo label maker. Previously, you could only find a label maker in the supply rooms. I'm not sure what the demand was that necessitated a label maker for every 1.5 employees--I don't think I ever had to wait to use it, even when there was only one per floor. The label makers in question have a current list price of $29.99 (available on Amazon). I doubt Judy paid full retail price for them, as I'm certain Epic has enough sense to get bulk discounts where available. Even so, my back-of-the-napkin calculation has the price of enough label makers for every office at Epic being close to one employee's yearly salary.
I would rather Epic had spent that money on hiring an additional TS, in keeping with Principle 3: Expectations = Reality. I expect my TS will be fully committed to my customer and no one else, and that is not reflected in reality.
Epic is not frugal with its employees' time. It takes 6-9 months for a new TS to become self-sufficient. Epic's customers are paying that TS for the time spent on the steep learning curve (which doesn't make the customers happy--no one likes paying master prices for apprentice work), which will then go to waste as the average employee will leave Epic (one way or another) after another 12 or 18 months. Epic is throwing a quarter of its salary expenditures down the drain--they're not reaping any rewards from retaining skilled workers--they train the employees and then fire them (or burn through them) just as they get the knowledge sufficient to do their job effectively. At that point, Epic adds multiple customers to a single employee's roster, which turns a functional, bright, excited little worker bee into a stressed, overworked, non-functional drone. Epic wastes (definitions 4 or 5) its employees.
And some of the uses that Epic puts its employees to just don't make good business sense. The "starting salary" of a TS, when put in hourly form, was about $28 when I started at Epic. Some employee duties included making popcorn for the Staff Meetings, and directing traffic at UGM. I don't know of any popcorn makers who earn $28 an hour, and that's not counting the lost productivity cost in taking that employee away from customer-facing work. The frugal thing to do would be to leave that employee in his office so he can work on billable tasks. Pay a local store to make all the popcorn--the increased productivity from Epic's employees will pay dividends, even if outsourcing the popcorn costs a little bit more per box. The same goes for all the UGM work, which is addressed in greater detail here.
Epic is frugal with employee salaries, so that's something. Compared to other software companies of similar size, and even the salaries of analysts at Epic's customer sites, the Epic employee is receiving less pay than people doing similar (sometimes identical) work at other organizations. Epic is very generous with its raises though, and those who are permitted to stick around make money hand over fist. But the average employee isn't going to last long enough to get that kind of salary. The low starting salary coupled with the huge raises for long-timers leads to a good-looking average salary, but chances are you're not going to hit that average during the typical short tenure of an Epic employee's employment.
Further breaking the illusion of frugality, there's Epic's artwork, which can best be described by borrowing from Hooters: tacky and unrefined. Judy is on record saying that the art work is a miniscule amount of the yearly budget. But as perceptions also equal reality, it gives the appearance of wasting a lot of money. Customers do not feel as though installing a tube slide or putting a paper-mache giraffe in a forest of fake bamboo is a good use of the copious amounts of money they've paid into Epic's coffers.
There's also the campus, which grows like a tumor. All that construction isn't cheap, and I understand that Judy had to modify the 10th principle because of it. "Don't take on debt, period" is a completely different from "Don't take on debt except in these specific circumstances."
The key to frugality is the wise use of resources. I'm not sure what the return on investment was for those label printers, or if there was one to begin with. If Epic spent more on outsourcing those tasks that don't require extensive, specialized software knowledge (like making popcorn and directing traffic), and less on cool gadgets (like popcorn machines), the appearance of frugality would show more. As it stands now though, there is nothing frugal about Epic.