Genius vs Perseverance in the Technology Industry

Last updated:

In the IT industry there seems to be a kind of person that is especially admired and looked up to: I'm talking about the creative geniuses, those highly intelligent people who can craft a super clever way of dealing with a problem that nobody has even thought about before.

There are probably the people behind most technological breakthroughs that we know about; they may be PhDs or maybe they dropped out of high school; but theirs are the ideas that have shaped a lot of the IT world we see today.

Then there are the workhorses. If you think this term is derisive, I have some things to say in my defense.

If you think the term workhorse is derisive, you may want to read this.

The workhorses are the people who maybe do not come up with the great, clever ideas themselves, but are those without which a great idea never sees the light of day.

Tickets (as referred to in issue-tracking systems) represent outstanding work or things that need attention in a project.

They are solid and maybe even conservative. They maybe don't like to take risks but they deliver. These are people who take professionalism seriously and (in your typical software firm), like nothing better than to pick a ticket and fix it, pick a ticket and fix it.

It should be mentioned that there is no reason to believe that people are either geniuses or workhorses. Many (maybe most) people may simply be neither.

Is the idea more important than its implementation? (Apple vs Google)

I always like to mention the (in my point of view) differences in the approaches taken by the firms Google and Apple.

It seems to me that Google focuses on the science while Apple is more of an engineering firm.

It's been said that Apple doesn't invent anything, but just takes things that already exist to whole new level of perfection.

While Google is also great in implementing things, their focus seems to be on trying out novel ideas and approaches on its products.

How both are important

I think it's obvious how both types of people (and approaches) have their value in a business setting. Both companies are very successful at what they do, in complementary ways.

As of this writing, Apple's market cap stands at USD 750 Billion and Google's at 400 Billion, but Apple has 100K employees and Google only about 50K.

Google's and Apple's market cap reflect an undeniable truth: both are deeply valued by the world and it really can't be said that one is more successful than the other.

In fact, it's very likely that you will find that Google employees use IPhones and MacBooks at work while Apple engineers use Google's web based services very intensely when developing their products.

The issue of predictability

Living in the real world as we do, we cannot ignore the practical economic realities that permeate our environment.

Money is important because money represents people's work.

Money is what counts in most business decisions, and rightly so. When someone (maybe an investor) invests in you (or pays your wages), they are risking something they have in order to (hopefully) receive more value from you.

So you have to take into account that, while your boss or a potential investor might value this great idea you say you have, they will maybe forgo your advances in order to stick with the other guy, who you feel (and you may be right) is not as clever or as knowledgeable as you are. He may appear more solid and predictable (says the right things to the right people and is an overall decent professional) and this may be what they are looking for.

But of course, if are so blessed as to be able to wear both hats at the same time (or at least have both available to you), then you will own the world.

Dialogue & Discussion