Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, numerous optical system programs have been carried from conception to operational status. Industry responsibilities include definition of and resolution of critical technology problems, development of conceptual designs for operational and support hardware, and finally, development and production of the operational hardware. This paper will discuss the role and the contributions of the management team in the evolution of three typical high technology optical programs. The first case study to be discussed is the role of management in a high-risk/high-payoff technology program, exemplified by the DARPA High Altitude Large Optics (HALO) Program. The second case study is based on Itek's involvement in the definition phases of the Space Tele-scope Program. The last case to be examined is the role of management in a major optical program directed at producing operational hardware in a timely, cost-effective manner.