Book Review – In Search of Stupidity


Name: In Search of Stupidity Type: Book Category: Industry
Pros: Well researched, good history of the industry. A lot of examples we can learn from. Cons: None Notes: Great book. Excellent lessons.
Overall Rating: Chanimal 5   Comments: Available in English, Japanese and Italian.


Book_StupidityOrder it HERE. I have to admit upfront, Rick is a friend of mine and I contributed a few stories for his “stupidity” book. Regardless, it stands on its own as a great history of our industry and the examples and lessons are priceless.

I first met Rick in June of 99’ when I ordered several copies of one of his other books, “The Product Marketing Manager’s Handbook for Software” for my marketing department. I found out about it from Linda Kazaras; an industry consultant friend of mine. Both Rick and Linda worked together on the book, “US Software Channel Marketing & Distribution Guide” that was published by the Software Publisher’s Association.

Rick is a seasoned industry veteran within the software industry having been involved with many of the companies he cites for the past twenty-four years. Combine his experience, with his cheeky sense of humor, and you’re up for one heck of an exciting history lesson. In addition, Rick is very sensible and has a gift for cutting to the heart of the matter.

Rick starts the book by reviewing many of the so-called “excellent” companies within the book, “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters. It doesn’t take long before Tom’s “excellent” companies are exposed as some of the world’s most dismal failures. Within just a few pages, companies like Data General (gone into oblivion), Xerox (on the ropes by the late 1990’s) , IBM (icon to tragedy–loosing more markets than most companies ever entered), Lanier (who), DEC (PC Roadkill) and others are exposed as failures, not models of excellence that we should emulate.

Rick goes on to quote Forest Gump’s memorable line, “Stupid is as stupid does.” He then explains that the great companies are not so great, they are just “less stupid” than those that have failed–usually because of stupid mistakes. He then fills his book with incredibly detailed examples of the stupid mistakes made by some of the industry’s most well-known companies.  Examples come from IBM, Digital Research, Apple, MicroPro, Ashton Tate, SPC, WordPerfect, Borland, Motorola, Intel (“What does ‘Intel Inside’ mean – A warning label), and the list goes on.  Apparently, there is plenty of stupidity to go around.

Rick concludes with the observation that we can either learn from the mistakes of others or repeat them ourselves. Unfortunately, we’ve seen several similar stupid mistakes from companies since then… so we as an industry obviously haven’t learned yet.

I was so tickled by this book when I first received it that I created a parody video (via a Chanimal sister company, within just a few days. The original video was a personal piece just for him and contained several copyrighted songs that drove the point across (and into the ground). Without having any success in licensing the music, the original was re-scored with generic royalty-free music and sound effects–it works semi-ok, but the doesn’t have the same punch. You can view this video parody, along with a live television interview, see the hall of stupidity and get additional information at Rick’s website,

Enjoy this book. I highly recommend it and give it 5 Chanimals!