I've been reading an interesting article ("What Brain Science Tells Us About How to Excel," by Edward M. Hallowell) in the December 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review. According to Hallowell, the first step to achieving peak performance is to make sure you're in the right job.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? In fact, my first thought upon reading this was, "Well, duuuhhh!" Then I remembered that a huge number of people are -- for a variety of reasons -- stuck in jobs they hate. Many others, while in jobs they like, have specific responsibilities that they hate (think of engineering project managers and marketing!).
Assuming that one has chosen the right educational and career paths to pursue, the next choice is about identifying and accepting the right job offer upon graduation -- not the job with the biggest salary; nor the job that is guaranteed 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday -- but the job with the best "fit" for the graduate.
According to current thinking, the job with the best "fit" will include tasks you like to do, tasks you do well, and tasks that add value to the firm. If you like to do a task that you also do well, or that adds value to the firm, so much the better. The shield-shaped gold spot in the center of the figure to the right is the "sweet spot," that place where the best fit occurs -- where all three kinds of tasks intersect.
Unfortunately, many engineers and architects see marketing tasks as existing in the purple area. They don't like marketing tasks and they don't do them well. But most important, they don't even see marketing as adding value to the firm because they have been taught to value ONLY the billable hour.
Nobody can teach a person to like something, but through repeated exposure, that person can learn to be comfortable doing that thing. Further, we CAN teach people how to do something well, even if it's not their favorite thing to do.
Finally, the fact is that all successful marketing adds value to the firm -- without marketing, engineers, architects, surveyors, planners, landscape architects, environmental and CM staff would quickly run out of billable hours, which doesn't bode well for long-term employment prospects. For these folks to refuse to credit marketing with adding to the firm's value is to pretend that new projects appear on their desks by magic.
Lightning was considered magic until human beings discovered and learned about electricity. Likewise, ascribing marketing to the category of magic may similarly reflect an ignorance that can be cured through education and training.
One can only hope.