“Normal people… believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”
Not surprisingly, I witnessed quite a bit of this phenomenon first hand at the Consumer Electronics Show last week. In an industry that is built upon one-upping the competition, there is a constant race to add more features and improve those specifications, even if they add no real value to the final product and to the final consumer.
The quote above, however, does not come from a technologist. Instead, it comes from cartoonist and satirist Scott Adams. He is best known for his Dilbert comic strip, which has always done a fantastic job of parodying the office environment and the quirks of the engineer’s lifestyle. Many times, it’s not about “fixing” what is broken; instead, it’s about taking what’s already great and making it stellar.
That’s exactly the mentality that industry legends like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos have taken. There is no finish line. There is no last nugget. Everything lends itself to a new opportunity for innovation.
Scott Adams reiterates this idea in another way:
“Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”
If life gives you lemons, then you have to figure out how to make an aluminum unibody smartphone with automated Twitter updates and a 18MP low-light digital camera. And a can opener. You know, just because.