Fundamentally, Engineers Serve Ideas

Here is Horace Dediu:

RIM is an engineering led company. Many successful companies rightly develop their engineering skills first because that is what allows them to create new products more quickly. This is true of Nokia and also of Apple and Microsoft in their early years.

What is difficult is to allow marketing people to define products after that early phase. This is partly due to the fact that there is less respect for “Marketing” among engineers. Many see it as a “soft” discipline where there is little rigor.

Engineering is about implementation. To the extent that the first paragraph is true, it is so because these companies already HAD a proven idea. After all, they had to give the engineers something to do and sell something to pay for them.

Once you need to start looking for the next idea, it requires something other than engineering skill, not that someone can’t have both abilities, of course.

As for the second paragraph, of course marketing is a soft discipline. And that is exactly why it’s so hard to get right. The difference between an 80th and a 99th percentile engineering idea isn’t going to be a big deal. Indeed, perfect is often the enemy of good.

Go with 80th percentile marketing ideas, though, and you’re dead meat.

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