Sunday, September 28, 2014

How Smart Creative are Your Engineers?

Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Roseberg have a new book out - How Google Works.  They seem to have an answer for what an engineer should look like in a faster, cheaper, and better world.  Exactly what is a smart creative engineer?

  • A smart creative had deep technical knowledge in how to use the tools of his/her trade.  They have plenty of hands-on experience.  He or she is an expert in doing.  He or she doesn't just design concepts, he or she builds prototypes.
  • He or she is analytically smart.  They are comfortable with data and can use it to make decisions.  He or she also understands its fallacies and is wary of endless analysis.  Let data decide, he or she believes, but don't let it take over.
  • He or she is business smart.  They see a direct line from technical expertise to product excellence to business success, and understands the value of all three.
  • He or she is competitive smart.  His or her stock-in-trade starts with innovation, but is also includes a lot of work.  He or she is driven to be great, and that doesn't happen 9-to-5.
  • They are user smart.  No matter the industry, he or she understands his or her product from the user or consumer's perspective better than almost anyone.  We call them a "power user," not just casual but almost obsessive in his or her interest.  He or she is the automotive designer who spends their weekends fixing up that '69 GTO, the architect who can't stop redesigning his or her house.  He or she is their own focus group, alpha tester, and guinea pig.
  • A smart creative is a firehouse of new ideas that are genuinely new.  His or her perspective is different from yours or ours.  It's even occasionally different from his or her perspective, for a smart creative can play the perspective chameleon when he or she needs to.
  • He or she is a curious creative.  He or she is always questioning, never satisfied with the status quo, seeing problems to solve everywhere and thinking that he or she is just the person to solve them.  He or she can be overbearing.
  • They are risky creative.  He or she is not afraid to fail, because he or she believes that in failure there is usually something valuable they can salvage.  Either that, or he or she is just so damn confident he or she knows that even in the event that he or she does fall, he or she can pick themselves up and get it right that next time around.
  • He or she is self-directed creative.  They don't wait to be told what to do and sometimes ignores direction if he or she doesn't agree with it.  He or she takes action based on their own initiative, which is considerable.
  • He or she is open creative.  They freely collaborate, and judges ideas and analyses on their merits and not their provenance.
  • He or she is thorough creative.  He or she is always on and can recite the details, not because he or she studies and memorizes, but because he or she knows them.  They are his or her details.
  • He or she is communicative creative.  They are funny and express themselves with flair and even charisma, either one-to-one or one-to-many.
  • The key fundamentals - business savvy, technical knowledge, creative energy, and a hands-on approach to getting things done.  You have to have the ability to work hard and willing to question the status quo and attack things differently.

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