Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Putt's Law

I have managed to avoid coming across this until today, when I heard and interview with the Author. I couldn't agree more.

"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."
—Putt's Law

1 comment:

Paul Robinson said...

I think it is said that in business there are two classes of people, those that want to command nature (or things) and those that want to command people. Or maybe that's in all fields, I'm not sure.

Programmers tend to be the type who gravitate toward control of objects (software in particular) because they have that sort of personality that makes them like to work with things because they are predictable, consistent and don't have feelings. Also, as far as measuring what you've done or explaining your output, you've got objective, measurable substance (source code) that can be evaluated.

Managerial types have to deal with people, and when you deal with people then it becomes likely that you're being judged on how other people have changed or on what is happening with respect to other people. That's a very soft thing to try to measure.

Unless you're a manager who's judged on something like how much your department cost or how much profit it produced. Then you can play really fun games to slice-and-dice the numbers to make your department look good or make someone else's look bad.

If someone's a good technical person, they're probably not good at being a people person such as a manager is supposed to be; the two personality types are usually contradictory toward each other. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen - I happen to think I'm one of the few who does have it - but it's very rare.

Good managers are hard to find. Some people say that public education is designed to stunt creativity and turn people into "good little boys and girls" e.g. "good Germans". I think that management schools turn otherwise good people into lousy managers. The best ones worked their way up from the lowest level, they know how the business works, you can't B.S. them, and they can even do the job of the people under them, in a pinch. Maybe not as well, but they could get by. On the other hand, you get some MBA-School trained manager of a company that rents cars, who couldn't handle a customer over the counter if his life depended upon it.

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