The Fault in our Techies (and Fuzzies)

During one recent dinner conversation, I was chatting with a friend about the breadth of courses I wanted to take at Stanford. Although I’m planning on majoring in Economics, I enjoy getting to sample all that Stanford has to offer; beyond Econ, I have taken courses in Computer Science, Education, Music, Management Science & Engineering, and the Graduate School of Business, just to name a few. When I told my friend about my plan, she looked at me incredulously and responded “how can you possibly have room in your schedule for that?” To my friend, who is double majoring in two “techie” fields at Stanford (including electrical engineering, which by itself is not easy), the thought of branching this far into so many different subject domains was near impossible. To me, it makes perfect sense to try and explore as much as I can.

I have straddled the fuzzy/techie line both at Stanford and in the business world, and although the division is not as black and white as people make it out to be there are some key differences. Especially in the business world, managers are often “fuzzies”, and engineers “techies”. When faced with a project deadline, this usually means that managers want the final product done yesterday and perfectly user-friendly, even if that means the product isn’t as polished as it could be. On the other hand, engineers want to take as much time as possible to obsessively perfect their product, even if that means delays and ignoring what the user actually wants (in favor of the engineer’s vision of how the product should function). As someone who has experienced both the fuzzy and techie sides, I actively seek both perspectives and opinions to facilitate compromise. It is a delicate balancing act, but one that I feel prepared to engage in.

There are a lot of people who stray too far to one side or the other, and though techies and fuzzies offer valuable insights it is the fuzzy/techie hybrid who actually gets things done. For any company to succeed, you need someone who has seen both cultures to facilitate communication between departments. Light and dark, ground and sky, management and engineering… to find a balance is to be breathtaking to those who watch you excel.

Light and dark, ground and sky, management and engineering… to find a balance is to be breathtaking to those who watch you excel.


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