The Santayana Theorem

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.
Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.
Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.


Remember when we tried to take the fat client app and do a limited browser version and called it a web app? Remember when we took our sloppy LAN “worst practices” and blamed the “speed of the Internet” for performance problems.

Remember when we tried to “evolve” OO to SOA yet we were still copying and pasting the same code all over the app.  Remember when a web app was a marketing splash page.  Remember when we thought about browser independence after the fact?

Remember how browsers and browser versions wreaked havoc on basic code stream and release management.


We are doing it again. It’s just a phone now. A smart one, but still just a phone.

You can not motivate a pig to fly …

Like all of you I have read and heard the overwhelming fear-based projections surrounding the next or the X or Y generation and their seemingly consistent … attributes (to be fair).

I was recently made aware of an applicant for a development position that declined the opportunity to interview due to the dress code (business formal) of the potential employer. It reminded of “this” generation and what I see as their simple lack of maturity. It also reminded me of every generation and our tendency to be narcissistic at times. In fact, it reminded me of me.

Here was a position that represented a developers dream. Or, at least what I would have constituted as a dream when I actually did the fun stuff – writing code. The position? First, the position involved full horizontal involvement and responsibilities throughout the entire lifecycle from vision to scope to requirements to BPR to design to development to UAT to deployment. Secondly, the position involved full vertical involvement and responsibilities throughout the technical spectrum from data integration/EDI to reporting and OLAP/MOLAP to UI technologies (the latest by the way) to middleware SOA development to database design/development. The intersection of these competency paths is pure gold. I would have waited overnight in line for this position – or would I?

The fact is at different stages of my maturity I probably made equally bad decisions. You could not have made me fly until I grew wings. You could not have made me think until I learned reason. Sometimes, looking for Ms. Right is a futile effort until you become Mr. Right.

From Lebron to the board room everyone is efforting to master the ability to build and manage the highest producing team. One of its core building blocks just may be the simplest (as in straight-forward as opposed to easy) of all – developing the professional maturity of the individual.

Brutal Gang of Facts

It has been an interesting year for me – a learning year. To be honest I started off last year full of confidence in what I knew and how I planned to impact clients in a positive manner. Since then it has been an interesting ride as I have survived an onslaught of a gang of brutal facts.

It is said, one of the greatest tragedies in life is the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts. We truly do hold strong and fast to our way of thinking – human beings do not like change a whole lot. But, while the resulting growth is beautiful, the attack is intensely painful. My mentor once taught me companies fit into one of 3 levels of performance – 1) Doing more with less, 2) Doing things differently and 3) Doing different things. So lets look at the brutal gang of facts through the perspective of the first level of performance.

I find it hard to believe that Jamie Dimon is a genius – although I think a lot of his capabilities. But, surely if there is a billion dollars worth of fat laying around then someone else had to have noticed it. It is probably over-the-top to assume it was intentionally ignored but what is probably more accurate is the existence of a beautiful theory held onto tightly by a great many people. Someone was doing the best they could with what they had. Someone was making the very best decisions available to them at that point in time. And one would probably have had a hell of a fight on their hands to contradict those theories.

But in walks “the gang” to upset the apple-cart. The “more” part of more with less is not exactly what we imagined it would be. The changes we thought we needed were not necessarily the “pill” we asked the good doctor to prescribe. The “facts” present themselves as contradictory to our way of thinking as light to darkness.

If we allow this light in, the growth we experience and the lessons we learn can and will far exceed those old trivial goals of progress originally intended. Moreover, a new paradigm of performance can be achieved and what we may have thought impossible at one time, is suddenly in our reach.

Bring it on!