The world as we know may be run by businessmen, but it is definitely shaped by engineers. Every engineer would said that the world will be a better place if tech guys made more decisions. In their microcosmos (organizations) they often rule, but how much help do they need from the non-tech side?
In corporations engineers becomes managers, that’s natural – and as an engineer working in software industry where 95% of positions are held by engineers I can say that things can surely work in that way – but what’s in startups, where’s no time or budget for such education?
Big ideas work best when there is a collaboration of disciplines; every Jobs needs a Wozniak just as every Tesla needs a Westinghouse. Tesla is a great example, he was the biggest inventor of the 20th century, and although he lived in the sea of corporate sharks he had no interest in making profit. Competitors copied or even stole some of his ideas. Without a ‘sponsor’ he couldn’t have commercialized his ideas and today we wouldn’t have benefitted from them. Even the biggest minds need help.
Inside corporations many innovators are introverts or simply don’t have the courage, or the strength, to fight for their ideas. Fear, inexperience, or just a lack of an innovation culture inside the department or inside the whole organization can block employees. So, corporate innovators needs a sponsor – often the superior on their side.
I’m often invited to give lectures on faculty of Economics, and it is there that I face many questions from future entrepreneurs who are afraid of what future brings them.
There is always a question on how to be successful and how to develop ideas. They can shape the concept, but have no tech knowledge to make it. So what can they do? The answer lies in collaboration. Business should have partners from the engineering professions, and vice versa.
Many startups have a few software developers, but little business smarts. Later, the leader tries to learn skills that could come from a partner who studied management/entrepreneurship. This education can generate a great leader or innovator, but it can also be a fatal mistake for the future of the company. Many entrepreneurs are unable to push their ideas forward and have to put their dreams on hold as they can’t find a partner with the other needed skills.
The best solution is to educate technicians from the beginning with other non-tech skills, and equip nontechies with a bit of business grounding. In countries like Croatia, where someone who study technical science don’t have an hour of entrepreneurship lectures on faculty, this is a must.