Thursday, June 25, 2015

Engineers & Lawyers

I've been doing engineering work since the '80's - I think like an engineer (not sure of the cause-and-effect there). Recently I've been working in technology transfer, which is MUCH more legally oriented. I've found I don't think much like a lawyer.

How does each category think? Here's my perspective...
  • Lawyers look at the world as a chess game. It's a relatively complex game, with lots of specific rules. It's generally well respected (maybe somewhat elitist?), though not often played by most. Either side is equally fine to play - the goal is to outsmart the other.
  • Engineers look at the world as LEGOs. Lots of parts of various sizes and shapes that can be put together in a seemingly infinite number of ways. Some builds work, some builds fail (you learn more from the failed ones). Not really respected per se, and also not played with by most. The goal is build something cool.
There are great aspects to both views, and pitfalls - not too much overlap though. Chess players think they are above LEGOs. LEGO enthusiasts think chess is unproductive...