Engineering Excellence

Engineering Excellence


Is your business going to fail because your product development (engineering) capability is in the toilet? Probably not. Are you leaving much success (value) on the table? Definitely.

Maybe you don’t really want or need awesome “success” – however you define that. Growth, profits, fun, kudos, whatever. In which case no worries. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Maybe you’re satisfied – or simply resigned – to being a one-product company, with no real plans for developing any more products in the future. That can work. Even in the long term.

And there are other paths to a “successful” business than engineering excellence. You probably work in such a business, even now. One that has chosen another path, that is. How’s that working out for you? I mean, how’s it meeting your needs?

“People simply feel better about themselves when they’re good at something.”

~ Stephen R. Covey,The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

Even if your business (more specifically, the folks in charge) wanted to take the engineering excellence path, it’s just so damned hard, isn’t it? Easier by far to pay lip service to the idea, delude yourselves and others – like customers and investors – that you’re serious, while actually just futzing around making it look like some progress is being made.

And let’s not forget, engineering excellence doesn’t just apply to your business’ products and services. It’s arguably even more relevant to the way you run your business (the way the work works).

Do I have any advice for those very few folks with the horn for actually doing something about engineering excellence in their knowledge-work business? Yes. It’s spread across the nearly three hundred blog posts I’ve written here over the past five years. Not that anyone’s listening. Which kinda demonstrates my point.

– Bob

  1. I’ve seen plenty of cases where customers are indirectly asking for engineering excellence. They mightn’t know what they’re really asking for, but the demand is there. They’d know it if they saw it, or at least recognise it’s side-effects. Inevitably, in most cases, it is ignored by the “decision makers” who are focused on unrelated information/metrics.

    Some irony in that as feedback is an aspect of engineering excellence and indeed meaningful relationships inside and outside of an organisation. You know, the sort of thing that might lead to a variety of “success”.

    • In theory – or, more accurately in the delusion-riddled minds of economists and their acolytes – the Free Market ensures that customers get what they’re asking for. In practise, of course, that almost never happens. Which for me points to the bankruptcy of economic theory.

      Feedback? Who’s listening? :/

      – Bob

      • Yes, economists :/ Inflation vs law of supply and demand. Seemingly one cannot have negative inflation yet supply and demand says prices can fall. Errrr?

        Seems like we can’t hear feedback nor can we see obvious contradictions in our theories and change our behaviour. Poor old excellence stands no chance in such a situation.

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