Greetings Fellow Monks
I recently read the book Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat: How to Win in the Information Age. This is a concise work (181 pages) in which Archibalt Putt introduces guidelines for advancing in the technological hierarchy of modern organizations. The book is both entertaining and right on target when describing common business interactions in technological hierarchies. I decided to write this Meditation, to present some of the Laws that caught my attention and to ask:
- how many of you have read the book?
- which “assertions” caught your attention?
- and has the book made you change the way you approach your interactions at work?
If you have not read the book (or even if you have) and want to share your opinions about the laws below, please feel free to do so.
- Putt's Law: “technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand”
- This Law has many implications, one of them is that to successfully manage a technological project there is no need to know all the details of the technology. Have you ever felt that people in management do not fully understand what you are doing?
- First Law of Advice: “the correct advice given is the advice that is desired”
- Second Law of Advice: “the desired advice is revealed by the structure of the organization, not by the structure of the technology”
- Third Law of Advice: “Simple advice is the best advice”
- The Laws of Advice are illustrated with the example of an Oil Company that discovered a major oil reservoir. The extracted oil could be economically refined into gasoline. The only problem was that the resulting gasoline had a greenish color. The two options that were proposed to the Company's Vice President were: establishing a costly research program to study the chemical composition of the gasoline or upgrading the refineries trying to solve the problem. The Vice President decided to ask for advice from an external consultant. After several weeks of work, the consultant offered the following advice: “Advertise the color”. Such a simple solution was exactly what the Vice President was looking for. Have you found any situation in which following the Laws of Advice are (or are not) applicable?
- Consultant's Law: “The value to a consultant of each discussion is proportional to the information he receives, independent of any information he may give in return,”
- Corollary to the Consultant's Law: “A successful consultant never gives as much information to his clients as he gets in return.”
- As I see it, this Law implies that a consultant should gather as much information as possible on the problem at hand before giving any advice. The Law also implies that the information gathered is gold for the consultant. Do you agree? Any comments on that?
- Fourth Law of Decision Making: “Technical analyses have no value above the midmanagement level
- As an Engineer, this is shocking to me. But having talked with an expert in marketing , it seems that Putt might be right. What are your thoughts on that
There are many more Laws (36) and some corollaries (8), rules (5), and guidelines (3) but I decided to leave them out in case you decide to read the book which I recommend if you are looking for a career in a technology-driven organization.
I am eagerly waiting for your comments
Disclaimer: portions of this meditations are inspired by a review I did on the book for an IEEE Journal