Recipe For $ucce$$ - Engineering



You must have heard the magical "engineering culture" that made tech firms billion dollars big, such as AirBnB, Spotify, Netflix; you must also have heard the same cult made tech firms absolute legends, such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

So who are the engineers and what sort of voodoo do they practise?


The Cambridge Dictionary defines engineer as "a person whose job is to design or build machines, engines, or electrical equipment, or things such as roads, railways, or bridges, using scientific principles.".

(One of) The Urban Dictionary definition for engineer is "a person capable of making things work in unfathomable and near-magical ways. A modern day witch. In many cases, just bringing an engineer into a room containing broken equipment causes the equipment to start working again."

I like the Urban Dictionary version.

Put that in the context of app development, engineers turn the customers' wish lists from consumer research, beautiful wireframes from the product team, 200+ rows of functional & non-functional requirements from Excel spreadsheet, colourful boxes + spaghetti lines from Visio into an app that can actually be downloaded from the app store and it will work.

You get the gist. These people turn abstracts to concretes and make things happen. Unverified legend also says they are only fed on pizza and energy drinks.

Engineering Culture

So what, errr, rituals/ceremonies/kungfu do these guys practise?

The short answer is, witchcrafts. I've gathered some examples from Google search for you.

Lean Canvas

Lean Canvas.jpg


Design Thinking

Design Thinking.jpg


Lean Startup





Some of the seasoned magicians/engineers even put multiple magics together.



A key aspect of the engineering culture is Learning Fast.

Leaning is only good when learning what has worked and what has not worked from stakeholders.

Learning comes from experiments, or "pull the finger out and start doing s**t as oppose to just whiteboarding".

Experiments are conducted in controlled environments, so that failed tests won't blow up the whole company.

Test outcomes are only meaningful when there are control groups and success metrics.

Tests are not wasted only when they are followed through.

Following through ensures new experiments can be sponsored again.

Demand & Supply

Sadly, if you are in Australia, the market has not been appropriately educated, the demand is not there, hence the supply lags.

If you do a search on "engineer" in IT sector, you will quickly find that both employers and job seeks mistake engineers with system administrators, or employers underpay engineers 30%+ comparing with architects of same seniority.

You don't see the value of engineers? Fair enough, have a think, how many times do you get stuck with the "High Level Design" delivered by consultants/mercenaries and your build team struggle to make sense of them because they are too high (level)? Wouldn't it be great if design and build are performed by the same group of people? Engineers could be your answers. Only problem is you may not be able to find/hire one. 

So what to do? Simple, recognise what engineers do, set right success criteria in the job ads and pay them more.