Put your least creative engineers on that project, please...

Sun's Systems Group holds regular, two-day internal CTO Review meetings at which the status of pretty much every project currently running within the Systems division is reviewed. These meetings are run by Mike Splain (Systems CTO and Sun's Chief Engineer) with John Fowler (Systems EVP) in attendance as well.

At least week's meeting, John made the following somewhat surprising comment during a presentation about a new software project starting soon in Systems. He said:

"Do me a favor and put your least creative engineers on that project, please."

John was right on target. Why? Because the project is about implementing functionality currently available on some non-Sun systems, and customers who have these systems already understand how to use the existing interfaces and utilities. The correct objective should be to do an excellent job implementing those existing interfaces for our systems. Doing a better or different interface is not always the right answer. In fact, it is often the wrong answer, especially when growing aggressively into new markets and taking business from competitors. In such cases, lowering the switching costs for customers is very important. Common interfaces, especially management interfaces, are an important way to do this.

That's not to say innovation isn't important--it is. But innovate in ways that add value, not in ways that create gratuitous differences between our products and those of the competition.


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