Monday, September 12, 2011

Connecting How Things Work With How People Work

This is a great observation from Imaging The Future: Science, The Arts and Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin and Jennifer Riel (Rotman / Fall 2011):

"The trick in the modern economy is to develop technology in such a way as to solve a real human problem - - to combine technological know-how with human insight."

This is an old debate (but our most important one) - - science and engineering enables us to design solutions, but the arts enable us to understand the underlying problems.  This one-or-the-other debate is the wrong debate - - the real debate is how to get engineers thinking about thinking.  How to get them thinking across models and disciplines.

The authors give the example of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.  The innovative beauty of Facebook is the combination of technology know-how with human insight.  Zuckerberg excelled in both sciences and classical studies in secondary school at Exeter before going on to study Computer Science and Psychology at Harvard.  His path is particularly insightful to future engineers - - Zuckerberg avoided the false choice that is framed as "Arts or Science" - - he choose both, and in so doing, gained a unique perspective on the world.  Anyone that uses Facebook understands that the technology behind it isn't really that special.  It is basically an intuitive user interface with some posting and connection tools.  The human understanding is hardly unique - - as all teenagers understand - - we like to hang around with, talk to and exchange stuff with our friends.  The Zucherberg "Breadth + Depth" moment - - the ability to integrate the technology with human insight.

This is a core skill for all engineers - - integrative thinking.  The ability to combine technology with human insight.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.