High-Tech Startups Need to Ditch the ‘Engineers Rule’ Mentality
“Over the past few years, I’ve seen an alarming amount of ‘Engineer First Company,’ ‘Engineers Rule’ and ‘Engineering-Centric Organization’ language. This perspective is as arrogant as it is short-term. Yes, it might be fun, disruptive and edgy. It’s also a sure recipe for failure.
A quick look at some basic marketing history proves the point:
- Apple. What would have happened if Steve Jobs hadn’t advanced the value proposition of the personal computer? Apple wouldn’t be the Apple it is today,
- Intel. Anyone remember ‘Intel Inside?’ I’m not convinced Intel would be around if a lot of someones in marketing, sales, operations, logistics and HR hadn’t kept the enterprise in balance.
- Nike. ‘Just Do it!’ In reality, Nike isn’t known for its stellar engineering. Neither is Under Armor. Granted, these aren’t high-tech companies, but I guarantee you each has an engineering division that studies materials, physics and much more.
Now, imagine if these companies had made a statement like ‘Engineers Rule Our Company’ early in their development. None of them could have flourished into the success it is today. Recall the proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Your small company is that child.
What if you focused on balance instead of bravado?
Uber is showing us the effects of an engineering-first culture, and the story is unfolding in very public real time. I’m sure many fine people are at work within Uber. But it appears that untrained engineers are dragging the organization down to its lowest common denominator. … A well-balanced company considers engineering, sales, marketing, operations, strategy and HR. It’s more staged for success because it’s a more complete vision.
Leaders of startups and large, established companies are no different in a few, critical respects. It’s up to you to ensure your company is balanced, healthy and set up for future success. It’s also up to you to behave fairly, legally and like someone who’s here for the long term.”