How Politicians and Engineers are different

Compromise vs. Problem Solving/Brad Feld

Washington runs on a compromise mentality. You propose something and then begin negotiating from there. Innovative companies, where I spent almost all of my time, run on a problem solving mentality. You have a problem – you solve it.

I’ve been increasing frustrated with politics and public policy discussions that I’ve been part of. It’s because I’m in a problem solving mode. While some of the folks I’m interacting with are also in this mode (which causes me to stay engaged), many are in a compromise mode. They don’t care whether or not we actually solve the root cause problem – they just have an agenda that they want to get into the mix legislatively and are negotiating for it with the goal of reaching a compromise.

No wonder we can’t solve any real problems in the country.


  1. durlov says:

    February 14th, 2012 at 4:56 pm Reply

    Perhaps this can be a factor why compromise culture exists. I liked your thought.

  2. tonycamilli says:

    February 14th, 2012 at 4:52 pm Reply

    That’s because engineers judge ideas based on their merit. Politicians judge ideas based on the party, industry, lobby, etc. from which they originate.

    I also can’t help but wonder if this is related to the whole “participation award” culture. Engineers measure success by actually solving the problem; winning, in other words. Politicians measure success by compromising and being bi-partisan. In other words: “we didn’t solve the problem, but we played together nicely.”

What do you think?

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