The art of the possibly impossible

So a while ago, as I was idly browsing Twitter while pretending to think about something important, there were these 2 tweets that I really feel need to be shared more widely. They’re taken from two different conversations and two different contexts but, for me, complement each other beautifully.

The first, from @xlerb (Jed Davis):

“Do I even need to say the words “empathy is a core engineering value” re the Twitter block fiasco, or has everyone already thought it?”

@Acuity_Design (Alastair Somerville)

Every system of accountancy, quality mgt, information architecture is an abstraction of a single human conversation: please help me.”

Empathy is a core engineering value … lovely phrase. I’m guessing this is a direct quote from somewhere, and I should know, but sadly I don’t. But I do know engineering; and I know that the traditional image of all engineers as single male nerds skating along the autistic spectrum is rubbish. Engineers, first and foremost, want to make things that work – and solutions that don’t help, don’t work. So engineers need to understand and empathise with the people who will use the product. They want to help you. Ok, they may not want to see pictures of your children or hear about your cat’s operation, but they want to hear about and understand what you need from them*.

Incidentally, what’s the quickest way to get an engineer to work on your project? Tell them it’s building on a prototype but in strictest confidence you privately think it’s going to be impossible to scale. Then stand back a bit, or you’ll get trampled in the rush to prove you wrong.

* Even the autistic ones. Especially the autistic ones, in fact. Autistic spectrum disorders don’t stop you from caring. Just putting that out there.


About jargonaut

Unashamed geek lost in policy land. Frequently required to believe three impossible things before breakfast, and implement them by tea time.
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