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  • Writer's pictureNathan Kirchner

7 billion others

There are a couple hundred thousand engineers out there and we are absolutely right; unfortunately there are seven billion people who don’t care!

Ok, the numbers are a little loose and the skill set warped perspective of the first group varies but the abstract point remains. It more and more takes a sharp contribution to come up with a step-change solution. In turn we generally need people with a more focused specific skill set and view to achieve that. The slippery slope begins...

These solutions tend to come from well within the niche of the skill set from which they were born; often at the cost of other much needed perspectives. For instance, solutions born from Tech naturally and obviously lean that way. We may attempt to bring in the other two core necessities of deep innovation, in this case Business and People, but even if we do it seems we more often than not only manage to meaningfully connect one. Leading to our solution facing friction for adoption; much to our confusion and dismay.

Take the situation where I create a Technology (I am a technologist after all!) and connect it to a business need. I have created functional innovation. It is a solution that does something to drive a very tangible business cog. Valuable, yes! and there is success to be had in this... but there is also the confusion of inherent friction to be endured in the case where my solution is exposed to any people with more than a 1st order separation to the problem being solved.

These people - the 7 billion others - literally struggle to connect. They struggle to see or feel an emotional link - there isn’t one, it wasn’t designed in! I’m not talking about the kind of emotion that results in hugging a penguin, I mean an answer to the very core ‘what is in it for me?’ humanistic instinct. Not only this, they're also unmotivated to care about a business process that they are not directly involved in. As a result they simply reject the innovation as there is nothing in it for them.

<the ubiquitous 'honest question'> Doesn't it matter who am I really making the solution for?

Unfortunately this question is largely moot. There is always some executive, some director, some department head that looks at what I’ve done in a different way... and then there is the open market! There is always some need to make my solutions speak for themselves, to clearly embody all three core necessities, and to be assessable to this foreseeable gambit of perspectives.

I’d prefer to do nothing than waste effort. So now I ask myself a set of simple questions on a scarily frequent basis in order to self-direct, guide and embody this realisation:

  1. Did some other mate say my solution does something that is clear to see, understand and that is worthwhile? --> Useful

  2. Did some other mate say my solution was so useful they are reluctant to let it go as they really just needed to keep using it? --> Sticky

  3. Did some other mate say my solution could both make money (value creation - the entrepreneur) and save money (value capture - the engineer)? --> Valuable

<the insight> It took me quite a few years, at least a few mm of grinded teeth and more than a few hairs to get it... I wish it was negotiable... I wish I had of got there sooner... There are a couple hundred thousand engineers out there and we are absolutely right; unfortunately there are seven billion people who don’t care!

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