Leverage the selfish

Thomas Millar / November 10, 2019

1 min read

If there’s one thing you can take to the bank it’s that I’m selfish.

Most engineers would tell you the same. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I will spend 5 hours to save 5 minutes of every day for the next year. So should you.

I believe it’s what, in part, makes good engineers great engineers.

If that’s the case, you’d be wise to leverage it. But how do you do that? It’s different in every situation, but the key is to build systems that align incentives.

Consider a team that builds tools. If they use the tool to build the tool and you’re customers are almost guaranteed that it’ll get better. Why? Because I’m selfish. I don’t want to come into work and use crappy tools. Neither do you. Our incentives are aligned.

It’s not always obvious how to do this. I still struggle to find these opportunities. It helps to continually ask,

Does my team feel the same pain as our customers?

People will go to extreme lengths to avoid pain.

People are selfish.

Leverage that.