Builders, you are always near and dear to my heart. I know the challenges first-hand of investing a huge amount of time, effort and care into producing something great. I emphasize with the difficultly that goes along with making a product that is simple to use, yet powerful behind the scenes. There are other points to always keep in mind however, that are important in being a continuously successful engineer:
People aren’t bits
We work hard to control all of the input and output of a system or process, but those rules almost never apply to people in the same way.
Remember that in all things, there is good to be found, and we should celebrate that success
A great engineer focuses on those things that can be improved. To the point that even if things are great, they are most interested in that bit that isn’t, and how we can either eliminate it entirely or relentlessly improve. Opportunity lies in the less than perfect, but we need to recognize what is working too.
Software is 99.997% people
Software migrations are a people problem, treat them that way.
Engineers aren’t always your target audience, and most times people aren’t interested in the bytes and bits that make up a project. Focus on the non-technical. Make it easy for them to understand. Seventh grade reading level or less. Repeat your message in every medium. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Little things matter
Whether you like Apple products or not, we can all agree their packaging is world class. They realize packaging is important as the initial touch point people have with a new Apple product, and they built something that not only works, but makes “unboxing” an experience. Before the iPhone, when you bought a new phone, it wasn’t even charged for use. Can you imagine charging your phone today before getting to actually use it? I can’t either.
People tend to think engineering is typically where we build something, solve a problem, or create a process. It’s also possible to create an experience along the way. The very best products and processes so comprehensively own their domain, that its hard to determine where things start and end.
Tell the story
Explaining a technology is rarely as exciting as the story behind what ability that technology provides. “Artificial intelligence” doesn’t have quite the ring that “talk to your phone and it automatically figures out what task you’re asking it to perform”.