An engineering mentality

18 January 2011 | 0 Comments

In many cultures – but unfortunately not to the same extent here in the United States – being an engineer is one of the highest status positions one can have, on par with being a medical doctor.  Even the US, rewards are reaped as engineers command far above average salaries.  Statistics show that the college major category with the highest probability of reaching a C-level position at a Fortune 500 company is engineering. Engineering PhDs were highly sought after for their analytical prowess in the mid-2000s to run obscene sums of money for quant-based hedge funds.

Engineering requires a high level of focus and commitment to solving an intractable problem, often leading to creative approaches.  I think a different way of stating this is by implying that engineers take a “systems” level approach to viewing a problem.  So for endeavors outside the realm of pure mechanical/computer/biological engineering – such as managing people or figuring out business strategy – much like assembling an IKEA table, engineers look at the problem as a system with functional pieces that can be fit together.  Break the problem down into it’s components and figure out a better way to reconstruct it.

Rebecca Lynn puts it a slightly different way and highlights three characteristics of an “engineering mentality” applied to effective marketing:

  1. Test everything.
  2. Make decisions based on numbers.
  3. Abide by the rule that the customer is always right.