Entrepreneurial Innovative Engineering – Part 3
Behind every great product there’s a team of people that share more than just common skill sets or common interest – they share “chemistry” – they figured out a way to work with each other.
They say alone you can go fast, but with a team you can go further.
No matter how rich, smart or hardworking you are, you need partners – people you can trust with your life to work with on a project of your life.
An entrepreneurial engineer realizes that you need partners in order to achieve a successful product, therefore let’s talk about partners in this article.
Looking back at most of the successful startups out there, and digging deeper into the history of their success, you will find clearly that it was never a one-man-show.
You might have the most innovative idea that a human being could ever have come up with, but without partners you can only go so far before you end up in a complete halt.
Jobs and Woz, Zuckerberg, Saverin and others, Larry and Sergey and finally Gates and Paul Allen – they come in twos, threes and fours but never a one man show. Why is that?
Because having partners doesn’t just complete the skillsets you’re lacking, it also helps you keep the faith in your product in the darkest times, every entrepreneur out there knows that there are moments of desperation when they thought this is it, my product is never going to make it, and there’s always this partner that brings them back to the arena and helps them keep the faith and continue the struggle to success.
We need the moral support because we are not machines, we are mind, body and soul and no matter how smart the mind is and how strong the body is you still need the spirit to keep fighting and going forward to achieve success.
A smart mind and a strong body with no spirit is as good as a fancy car with no fuel.
A fancy car could have the latest tech and the strongest engines, but without a fuel it’s just a useless piece of machinery, a bicycle would be more beneficial than a Lamborghini with no fuel when you need to go somewhere.
And because moral support is important, you need to make sure you surround yourself with optimistic people who believe in the impossible, the glass half full kind of folks who see opportunities instead of difficulties and always hope for the best.
In the last seventeen years in the software industry I’ve come across some of the smartest engineers I’ve ever met, but these engineers where living in corners working on things they could do with their eyes closed and their hands tied behind their backs.
When I approached these engineers to ask them about embracing entrepreneurial engineering without speaking of any specific project, I was shocked to see how internally defeated they were.
They couldn’t see the bright side of anything, no hope or optimism.
I understand how useful that mindset could be when it comes to developing software.
You must think of the worst-case scenario and program defensively against it, you need to be a pessimist to build a resilient software.
But what was surprising is that they couldn’t apply the same concept to entrepreneurship – the concept of seeing a difficulty and planning defensively against it, they preferred not doing it at all.
You don’t need that kind of mindset when you’re starting a new company or building a new product, you need to pessimists who say here’s the worst case scenario and here’s what we are going to do about it, not the ones who say it’s impossible, it’s not going to happen!
When Steve Jobs was working on project Lisa, he ran into an engineer – the best engineer his department that had a mindset of not believing in the impossible.
He never shared the vision, and although he was the smartest, Jobs decided to fire him on spot, because he was as good as a Lamborghini without a fuel!
But Partners need to be also people you could trust, blunt honest people who will give you the situation straight without any beautification!
Because when you’re at the inception of a new project, you need to be able to react as fast as you can towards any changes, and in order for you to do that you need to be aware of any of these changes as soon as and fast as possible.
Your partners are your eyes and ears, they should communicate the situation to you as is, and the faster your reaction is to some issues the better the outcome might become.
But what are the rules of trustworthiness?
How do you know if someone is worthy of your trust?
I say trial and error!
You befriend your partners, travel with them, learn about their lives and start smaller projects with them, so how they would react, how they operate and how they react tough situations.
More smaller projects, little things and little situations you will get to learn about your partners, who they are and what they are made of.
The compatibility between partners and chemistry is the most important aspect of any project, that is because any software no matter how small or big it is, it is nothing but a reflection of the communications and mindsets of the people who developed it.
And if the people who develop the software don’t trust each other, the outcome would be a crippled product that is destined to fail and vanish no matter how successful it looks at the beginning.
Software engineer is a very social practice, regardless of how some portrait engineers as people who live in basements and write some code in the dark – that’s the furthest from what engineers really are.
Partners who are optimistic, friendly and trustworthy is a great thing, but if they are not hardworking nothing will ever get done.
I’ve met some people in my life whom I trust with my life, could throw a million dollars in their lap and walk away and know they’ll bring it back.
But some of those weren’t cut out for hard work.
They just couldn’t do the actual work, they wanted to travel, joke and hangout but very little work they could accomplish.
You don’t need that if you want to achieve something – and you can so easily tell the hustler who works long hours walks the extra mile and do the right thing when no one is looking versus those who will work just hard enough to stay in the group and feed off of the success that those who do the actual work gain.
In 2010 I started recruiting some of the students in my college to start the work on the graduation project, I intentionally set three rules to join the project:
- We will start working on the project a year early.
- We will meet every day at 7:00 AM.
- We will produce code or research on daily basis.
Over 23 people wanted to join my graduation project team, but at the time the project was done only 5 were the ones who could stand still and get the project done.
A lot of people will talk the talk, believe in principles and preach them but never apply them to themselves, beware of those, because you will end-up doing all the work yourself while they enjoy their time hanging out and profiting off of your hard work.
Partnership is nearly a fair balance of effort amongst all partners, each and every partner needs to walk the whole team a step closer to success with their own way using their own skillset.
So skillset is very important for a team of partners to achieve a product!
Let’s talk about diversification of skillsets!
It’s important that your partners are good at different skillsets, wear different hats and willing to educate the group about what they are good at.
Just like at war, if you were operating a tank, you need a spotter, a driver someone who puts the bullets in! – each one of that squad is doing something different to achieve the same goal.
And some skillsets are very hard to find, and if you did you might not run into the most trustworthy people who know these skills, this is when some partners decide to outsource some of the work and hire people they can trust to get some parts of the project done.
There’s nothing wrong with that, desperate times call for desperate measures – you have to move forward and take your time picking up the right partners – no partners with an outsourced project is better than a project with partners that are ready to let you down at the first hardship.
Having partners is a great asset to have to build a great product, but you need to believe in your product first before any of that becomes fruitful, if you are building a product just to make profits without it being more than just a “residual income” it’s very likely that your product is going to fail, there’s something about the philosophy behind your product that makes it appealing a wrong that you want to right, a theory behind the action.
Let’s talk about that in the next article.
… To Be Continued