In Technical Leadership – An Introduction, I talk about how growth is associated with doing different things, and not necessarily doing more. The first change is the transformation into an independent problem solver. The second and third changes are about understanding keizen (改善). The final transition into a technologist involves:
- Looking beyond what the customer asks for, to what the customer is trying to achieve. Maybe, the customer asked for a stain remover for ink that leaks from their ink pen onto their shirt pocket. Maybe, we give them a ball point pen that does not leak ink.
- Understanding what the customer doesn’t know she wants, and providing it. This almost always leads to disruptive technology, and new markets. Almost all established markets started this way, including personal computers, light bulbs, cars, fridges, microwaves, telephones, televisions, social networks, search engines, and so on. Before these existed, we did not know we needed a car, a telephone, or a search engine.
Being a technologist is not just about pushing the envelop of technology, but also about identifying a real problems that can be solved through innovative use of these technological advancements. Post-it was invented by two people – one who happened to invent a glue that does not stick, and one who found the killer use for it. Both of them are scientists, but it is the latter’s skill that is not easily learned by going to school.The two previous transitions taught us to identify real problems, and then solve them, which is what makes those transitions crucial on the path to this coming of age as a technologist.
Thanks for reading my posts on this topic. I am overwhelmed by the responses I got, privately and in the posts!
The full series of blogs on Technical Leadership: