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Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat: How to Win in the Information Age Hardcover – April 28, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0471714224 ISBN-10: 0471714224 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-IEEE Press; 1 edition (April 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471714224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471714224
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"If you like Dilbert, you'll love 'Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat.'" (Phil Windley's Technometria, March 14, 2007)

"...humorous at times, cynical at times, this book is a must read for those interested in understanding how some technocrats got up in technological hierarchies." (PerlMonks, December 29, 2006)

"The book remains an enjoyable and worthwhile read for anyone affiliated directly or indirectly with high-tech industry." (IEEE History Center Newsletter, November 2006)

"Although Putt's Law is an excellent read for those of us who grew up working in technology companies, it should be required reading in colleges and universities. I refer to both engineering and management programs." (Chip Scale Review, August/September 2006)

"...contemporary and apropos...Putt is a veritable fountain of wisdom." (Civil Engineering, July 2006)

"The book is clever and gently humorous…" (Computing Reviews.com, February 13, 2006)

From the Back Cover

"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

Early Praise for Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat:

"It's a classic. It reads at first like humor, but one eventually realizes that it's all true. The first edition changed my life. I loaned my copy to a subordinate at IBM, and he didn't return it to me until he was my boss."
—Dave Thompson, PhD, IBM Fellow (retired), Member National Academy of Engineering, and IEEE Fellow

"Putt's humor ranges from sharp to whimsical and is always on target. Readers will be reminded of many personal experiences and of lessons in life they wish they had learned earlier in their careers."
—Eric Herz, former IEEE executive director and general manager

"Anyone who thinks 'engineering management' is an oxymoron needs to read this terrific book — then they will know."
—Norman R. Augustine, author of Augustine's Laws and retired Chairman & CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation

Putt's Law is as true today as it was when techno-everyman Archibald Putt first stated it. Now, in Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat: How to Win in the Information Age, Putt is back with the unvarnished truth about success in the modern, technology-driven organization.

As you learn the real rules of the technology world, you'll meet such characters as the successful technocrat, Dr. I. M. Sharp. You'll find out how he wrangles career victories from corporate failures, nearly bankrupting the firm with his projects while somehow emerging the hero. You'll also meet such unfortunates as Roger Proofsworthy, top-level perfectionist yet low in the hierarchy, and come to understand how he assiduously preserves his spot near the bottom of the totem pole.

Whether you work in business, IT, or are a freelance technocrat, you'll want to study Putt's hard-won wisdom and laugh—all the way to the bank!


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Thank you Archibald Putt, whoever you are!
R. Brancazio
More than just a wise, witty, and knowing satire of large organizations, this book also explains how they got that way and what you can do about it.
George S. Almasi
Subsequent articles develop a series of corollaries, all of them witty yet tragically true.
calvinnme

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Putt's laws and their corollaries were published in a series of articles in Research/Development magazine in 1976-1977, and then published in a book in 1981. The work was credited to the pseudonym of Archibald Putt. In this new edition, Putt updates his advice for the age of the web and even adds a few laws given the new technology. Putt's fundamental law is :"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 was not just some cute clever saying that the author concocted. It can actually be logically derived. The author states that the only way to avoid the Peter Principle, which states that in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence, is creative incompetence. The author says technology is an anomaly because creative incompetence is common. Among the examples given are Albert Einstein. Einstein was one of those odd individuals who was so unkempt and eccentric that he would never be invited into the management club. Thus he was able to spend his entire career doing theoretical physics - never managing what he understood. The second anomaly is the lack of a competence criterion for technical managers, causing people to manage what they don't understand. These two anomalies together form a "competence inversion", hence Putt's law.

Subsequent articles develop a series of corollaries, all of them witty yet tragically true. Some others are:
"The maximum rate of promotion is achieved at a level of crisis only slightly less that that which will result in dismissal."
"The value of an idea is measured less by its content than by the structure of the heirarchy in which it is pronounced."
"The correct advice to give is the advice that is desired.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SusanCT on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you want to jump-start your technology career, put aside your Peter Drucker, your Tom Peters, and your Marcus Buckingham management tomes. Archibald Putt is back.

Who is Putt? Well, for those of you under 40, the pseudonymous Archibald Putt, Ph.D., penned a series of articles for Research/Development magazine in the 1970s that eventually became the 1981 cult classic Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat, an unorthodox and archly funny how-to book for achieving tech career success.

In the book, Putt put forth a series of laws and axioms for surviving and succeeding in the unique corporate cultures of big technology companies, where being the builder of the best technology and becoming the top dog on the block almost never mix. His first 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," along with its corollary, "Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion," have been immortalized on Web sites around the world.

The first law is obvious, but what's a competence inversion? It means that the best and the brightest in a technology company tend to settle on the lowest rungs of the corporate ladder-where things like inventing and developing new products get done-while those who manage what they cannot hope to make or understand float to the top (see Putt's first law, above, and a fine example of Putt's law in action in the editorial, "Is Bad Design a Nuisance?").

Other Putt laws we love include the law of failure: "Innovative organizations abhor little failures but reward big ones." And the first law of invention: "An innovated success is as good as a successful innovation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Brancazio on June 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Putt's Law" was recommended to me as a "fun read" by an old friend who toiled for many years in the computer industry. At first glance, the book seems to be primarily a collection of witty "laws" and whimsical situations describing life in the world of high technology. (My personal favorite: Putt's corollary to the famous dictum, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - i.e., "every time history repeats itself, the price goes up.")

I was pleased to discover that this book is as wise as it is witty. Its observations about the achievement of success in the world of high-tech business are right on target, and it is full of sage advice on how to survive and prosper as an engineer or manager. I would certainly recommend it as a useful guide to young men and women who are just entering the field, as well as to older readers who have seen it all. Thank you Archibald Putt, whoever you are!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By George S. Almasi on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
More than just a wise, witty, and knowing satire of large organizations, this book also explains how they got that way and what you can do about it. "Four Laws of Advice" is my favorite chapter, followed closely by "The Consultant's Law", since that's what I do now. This book is a gem!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on June 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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.

Every once in a great while a book like this comes around and changes the way you think of things. These books are usually small (like this one), easy to read (like this one), and are laugh out loud funny (like this one). It's only later when you are in the shower or just falling asleep that you recognize that 'yes, your organization just may be the one he is talking about.'

Actually there are many laws in the book, most of which are backed up by examples -- I especially liked the one where the manager wanted to bring back vacuum from outer space. When it was pointed out that it would be too expensive, he had a stroke of genius and said that they could compress it, that way they could get more in the same sized container.

No, this didn't come out of Dilbert, it came out of Putt's Law. You can view this as a written form of Dilbert.
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