Age and the Search of Stupidity

Another book that been languishing on my nightstand is the second edition of In Search of Stupidity by Merrill "Rick" Chapman. I read--and enjoyed--the first edition and was a little reluctant to read it again to find the new stuff but I'm glad I did. This is more than a new edition; it's a remarkable rewrite. Just like version 2 of most software (or version 3 of Microsoft software), this edition is a much better than the 1.0 edition. Chapman has added analysis of the mistakes with concrete advice on how to avoid the same mistakes in future. He also refreshes the edition with examples from current days, showing how mistakes from the past are being repeated again and again.

In particular, Chapman illustrates how those who refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it. SaaS used to be called ASP, which once was called timesharing. Everything new is old! And because many marketing and engineering folks are in their 20s and young 30s, they don't remember what the oldsters know.

Our industry is really quite young, isn't it? In our product management survey, only 5% of our respondents are age 50 or older; the average product manager is 36 and likely to have an MBA. You'd think that the biz schools would be exploring the failures of the tech industry but Chapman illustrates that we haven't learned much from the past.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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