Meeting with Dave Thomas by Ivar Jacobson

Meeting with Dave Thomas

The weekend July 8-9, Dave Thomas visited me at my country house in the Stockholm archipelago. Some of you have already met Dave. He is a very dynamic and colourful Canadian. He is very popular in some camps and he is feared in others.

His great strength is really finding innovative, competitive solutions to people's business problems which can be solved by software; and assembling and motivating people to move towards a goal. He looks many years ahead at the business/competitive climate and navigates a path through to a goal. He uses the best things he can find to solve the problems and doesn't generally constrain his solutions to the practices or technologies that are popular or widely available. If everyone uses the same process, technology and tools then he doesn't see where one gets competitive advantage since everyone can hire smart people. Hence he seeks strategies which others don't see and competitive opportunities to use them. This is why so many companies have problems today including MS, IBM but also companies like Fujitsu, Samsung etc. Unlike Google for example they did not think out of the box, they just run hard. MS has a hard time to understand enterprise clients, and IBM doesn't really understand how to build and deliver software as a service. Smalltalk was successful because Dave made IBM do it (The IBM Smalltalk), and Eclipse is successful because Dave created a strategy to disrupt the tool market. This is his real strength, managing software is something he does for fun. :)

The first time he visited my country house was 1988. At that time I had founded Objectory a year earlier and we discussed what I should do. He strongly believed in my vision and technology. He gave me some advice which included the following:

You should write a book about use cases and objects – no more that 150 pages. Then that book will become a market leader. He saw my hesitation. I said something like software development is serious work; you can’t describe that in 150 pages. He responded, of course you can’t, but people want simple solutions, they don’t want complex books. And, then you can come out with an improved version every year, and people who bought the first version want to by every other version. :) This is how you create market leadership. Of course, I should have done as he suggested.

Dave and I had a great time together at my country house as you can see from the photo below.

We did some good work together on EssUP and NGP as this picture shows: 

He likes our work and he will help us communicate it in the software community. I will write again about the specific results of the meeting which will come in the next few months.