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Preface

Preface

Much of my adult life has been spent rubbing shoulders with smart people. In college, in every job I've ever had, and in starting my own company, these smart people have been colleagues, bosses, and peers. Because my own background is in software development, many of these smart people have been at home in that discipline—a science that is immensely sophisticated, meticulous, and complicated. I am not alone in this regard, as more and more of us are finding our lives affected by these same smart people and the things they make and do.

Over the years, a suspicion has gradually been growing within me. It is a suspicion that I have been slow to voice. However, as the years have gone by, and as the evidence has accumulated, I have finally come to the conclusion that despite smartness, expertise, skill, experience, and genius, some people are lacking an essential skill: common sense.

“The trouble with common sense,” the old saying goes, “is that it's not all that common.” That has very much been my experience. Despite all the smarts that are floating around, many dumb things get done. These are things that, if we only applied some of this pixie dust we call common sense, would never have been allowed to happen.

It is against this background that I have written this little book. It tries to set down a number of what one might grandly call “principles” of common sense. Rather than trying to define common sense, it tries to identify practices and principles that, if followed, lead us toward using common sense.

I don't see these principles as being in any way absolute. Another writer might have put forward a different set. However, I believe the principles given here can serve as a useful toolbox for attacking many of the problems that one encounters every day, be it at work or outside of it. Within work, I believe the application of these ideas will yield real benefits—hence, the book's title.

To put things another way, this book might not be the only game in town, but it is a possible bag of pixie dust.

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