I as an engineer am not motivated by your speeches

Blake Wight
3 min readNov 20, 2020
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I won’t speak for all engineers, but I will speak for myself. I don’t care about the grand vision of the company (most of the time). Engineers care about software. They want to create elegant, large, scalable, fault-tolerant systems. They are at your company to do that. I am at your company to do that.

Engineers as craftsmen

Engineers are like carpenters or other craftsmen. Carpenters care about how a piece of furniture is crafted, and how the thing itself looks, is made, and how long it will last. What the carpenter doesn’t take a lot of consideration for (unless they are paid to do so) is how that piece of furniture fits in the room. Even if they are compensated to make the piece match an aesthetic, they do not care.

Having a product or sales person in an engineering meeting talk about how the company’s business is going to skyrocket and take over the world is like the client of a carpenter talk about how well a piece of furniture will match the room its going in. The carpenter likely doesn’t care about the how good the room will look. The carpenter cares that the person will continue to fund their craft of making fine furniture, the means to improve the methods of creating furniture, and how much of their furniture will be used.

That’s it. Engineers care about the furniture itself. Product people care about how the furniture looks in the room, and sales people care about filling rooms with furniture. These all sound similar, but they are not.

Engineers want the furniture to last forever, easily handle wear and tear, and be as useful to people as possible. Product people only care about how furniture looks in rooms, so they pressure Engineers to create furniture that looks good, but that is where the care ends. Sales people don’t care what the furniture looks like as long they can get people to pay for it. They push engineers to pump out furniture without care for how it fits rooms, or the quality of the furniture.

Engineers need some of these pressures. It helps them actually finish and sell furniture. Without them, engineers would constantly be working on how to improve furniture without selling it to people. There is a “good enough” threshold. Pushed to hard engineers are pushed to create “facade-like” furniture that looks ok, but falls over or has to be thrown away too quickly.

What is the moral of the story?

Engineers, stand up for yourself and for the quality of your furniture.

Product and sales people, let engineers build great furniture, keep pressuring them to finish things, but keep in mind that you want great furniture. Also, engineers (or at least me) are not heavily influenced by your pump up speeches about how great the company is. We get excited by creating great furniture.

I have a few other articles here you can view here: https://bwighthunter.medium.com/

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