Archive for November, 2006

Pando

This is really interesting (www.pando.com). We are at the beginning of the legitimization of P2P. On top of this there was some press release today from Bittorent saying that they signed some deals with major movie and TV companies.

Bittorent has said for a long time: “You can use this technology for good.” Obviously in an attempt to counteract the overwhelmingly negative perception of P2P from the business world. Pando is one place where this really starts to hit home. Obviously, Pando is not the first. WoW uses P2P and i’m sure there are many more. The real point is that the uses are just boundless.

Take a moment to really break down what P2P means. “Peer to Peer” Now that i am thinking about it, there is no phrase that better characterizes the major movement in communication technology over that last 4 – 6 years. Whether is it Bittorrent, wikipedia, or facebook, successful technologies are all about exposing the individual person to other individuals. Every day our information becomes less filtered, less controlled. We no longer need massive nameless entities to dole out news, research, or contact info. Every day, technology is enabling people to do what people have always done best… communicate.

I guess this post was less about Pando and more about reflection, but regardless, check out Pando. Its cool.

Engineer / “Manager” Phenomenon

Over the last few years, i have noticed a strange phenomenon that has gripped university engineering students everywhere. It is the “I don’t want to be an engineer forever” phenomenon. Now i know this makes sense. In fact, i would identify myself as a member of this group. Recently, as I was conducting phone interview for college hires, it really struck me. Every single one of the students said they wanted to get into “product management” after a few years of engineering.

This statement doesn’t really surprise me, as those words definitely came out of my mouth about a year ago; however, what struck me was that it was every person. Literally, every single one. Toward the end of my phone interviews, i was tempted to ask the candidates, “do you really even know what ‘product management means?'”. Somehow i doubt it, but it is interesting enough for me to try to explore why i think this phenomenon exists and what it means for engineering and management in the future.

I can identify one thing that i believe is responsible for this. It is that college students are confusing “Product Management” for “Manager.” Now, I guess i can understand where this confusion arose. In fact, its pretty obvious. But what I don’t understand is why this confusion is so commonplace. I really do not believe that all these engineers want to be PM’s. Being a PM separates you from what i consider to be the heart of engineering: complex problem solving. I have to assume that college engineers got all the way through their major’s because they like to solve challenging puzzles. As a PM, your job requires you to work at a higher lever than those little details. I simply do not see how a true engineer could ever be completely satisfied with a classic PM job. Certainly, if your company is flexible, and you can work in a hybrid type role, some type of PM / Engineer position would be really fun. However, I do not think college engineers are see this difference.

I do think that they want to be managers. Sure. Who doesn’t? What concerns me is that good engineers, good problem solvers, are going to go down this PM route in search of something that is not there, while they could have been working toward being a manager by staying in a true engineering role.

It is certainly an interesting phenomenon, and one that I personally have not figured out yet, but for me the bottom line is: If you are smart and work hard, you’ll be a manager. If you don’t work hard, being a PM is not the “silver bullet” that makes you management material.