The Knack

ClearPath Forward4 minutes readNov 16th, 2010
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My son, off in college, sent me a facebook link to a Dilbert cartoon this morning …. We won’t even begin to discuss how communication with one’s children has evolved, perhaps that’s one for another blog   His life has always had Dilbert in it and he has used it not only to understand what his father does, but his mother as well who is, dare I say, “in marketing”.    It is hard to argue with his understanding of the American workplace seen through the eyes of Scott Adams and this particular video clip actually captures, I believe, what makes ClearPath Engineering special ….it is called “The knack”. (If you Google ‘Dilbert the knack’ you will find a one minute video).

The “knack” is the term used to describe people who like to understand how things work, the ones that took things apart as youngsters and could actually put them back together again.  I must admit, I had “the knack”, from an early age.  I can’t begin to list the things I disassembled and reassembled and so I suppose Scott Adams is right …. ‘The knack’ is an essential aspect of good engineers.

I can honestly say that when I was a student of computer science and exposed to my first computer systems I learned the architectures of several before I found one that captured my imagination.  I was immediately taken with the elegance of the design, the varied implementations of that design and immediately started to “take it apart” to understand how it worked.  As my career progressed I found myself among like minded people, people that wanted to understand how these systems worked at the lowest possible level and then improve it … people with “the knack”.

My dream job was to work in the engineering group that created these systems … those responsible for not only maintaining, them but also inventing the future.   When that happened, I was surrounded by people who most definitely had “the knack”.    But “the knack” just isn’t enough.

You need to be able to combine the cleverness that is “the knack” with an understanding of how our clients use our systems and what they use them for.  Having a deep understanding of the client’s business challenges allows those with “the knack” to focus on making complicated things seem simple.

A case in point is ePortal.  Those that had the vision for ePortal and the ability to translate that vision into reality definitely have “the knack”.   Everybody wants a Smart device … be it an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry or an Android.  They want to be able to do everything with it.  Those that conceived of ePortal saw that.  They also saw the complexity of developing applications for multiple competing platforms and interfacing them with legacy systems as untenable.   What separates them is that they took this problem  apart to understood how it worked (and didn’t) and then conceived of a better way, one that not only addresses the desire to interface smart devices but does so in a most intelligent way that requires no changes to the legacy application and allows one to address multiple device types easily.  These people most definitely have “the knack”.    This is what defines a ClearPath engineer … a deep understanding of ClearPath systems combined with how our clients use them … the knack with context.

So the next time you see Jr. taking apart the TV, worry not, he’s likely just the kind of person we are looking for in next generation of ClearPath engineer.

Tags-   ClearPath ClearPath ePortal Knack skills Scott Adams