“Billion dollar corporations are places where innovation goes to die.”
“If you work for a corporation you have the illusion of security. If you work for yourself you have the illusion of freedom.”
“Billion dollar ideas are disruptive, and usually require somebody to bet their job to make them a reality.”
These are just a few of the observations recently shared by Scott McMorrow, CTO of Samtec’s Signal Integrity Group. Scott was the Keynote Speaker at EDI CON 2017.
Our friends at Signal Integrity Journal posted a video of Scott’s Keynote Address. Instead of discussing usual “Scott topics” like system design, electromagnetics or power analysis, Scott shared his insights on how engineers can broaden their horizons and become a change agent. He discusses the importance of “betting your job” on your beliefs, and how valuable engineers do it all the time.
Here’s the link to the Signal Integrity Journal page with the video of his presentation. This video is rated PG-13 for some rough language, challenging ideas, and outside-the-box thinking. Fortunately, there’s no nudity involved (and that’s a good thing when we’re talking about Scott McMorrow).
I suggest watching the video because a summary of Scott’s presentation won’t do it justice. But having said that, here are a few of Scott’s observations that I think are worth sharing:
Billion dollar corporations are places where innovation goes to die. They were innovative when they started, but by the time they reached a billion dollars, their job evolves to survival and to provide reasonable growth to satisfy stockholders. Their thinking is linear, non-disruptive, and inside-the-box.
Three quotes that sum up corporations are:
- “Peace and tranquility is directly related to order and discipline.” – paraphrase of John Calvin
- “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of next best.” Otto von Bismark
- “We’re all temporary employees.” – Scott McMorrow
Billion dollar ideas are built on innovation, non-linear, disruptive, they expand the operating context. Examples include the internet, the personal computer, iPhone, Tesla, SpaceX, Uber, and the Biotech revolution.
In many cases, people who dreamed and implemented these billion dollar ideas bet their jobs on them.
Three quotes that sum up Billion Dollar ideas:
- “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
- “What do you care what other people think?” – Richard Feynman
- “Bet your job.” – Scott McMorrow
Why should you bet your job? Running a company is often a political process, and by speaking up / betting your job, you show dedication and value.
We’re all temporary employees. Engineers today seldom, if ever, retire where they started. Examples include Bell Labs, HP, and DEC.
For the average engineer to be heard, they have to rise up above the way they are hardwired and speak up, and better communicate their ideas
Speak up if it’s a bad idea – you don’t want to be the person who complains afterwards that it didn’t work, or didn’t communicate it well
CTOs want his/her engineers to challenge them, think through every problem and decision as if your job is on the line, make decisions and bet your jobs on them. It’s OK to tell the CTO, “I think you’re wrong,” but have your data and facts to support your claims.