Let’s start this post off with a quick exercise. I want you to bring up a mental image of an artisan. Consider what makes someone an artisan and the key characteristics you associate with that person. Now, I want you to bring up the mental image of an engineer. Think about the qualities a typical engineer must possess to be good at what they do.
If you’re anything like me, these two mental images are totally different. On one hand, the artisan is concerned with creating something of quality, often by hand. The work of an artisan can’t be rushed and the end result is something that can’t be reproduced by a machine.
The engineer, on the other hand, has an entirely different skill set. The engineer is hyperaware of patterns and is focused on building scalable systems with logic and data. The output of an engineer is often something that benefits more than just one person on a global scale.
The appeal of an artisan is that they produce high-quality, one-of-a-kind results. The appeal of an engineer is that they orchestrate systems and processes that prioritize speed and ease-of-use. Both artisans and engineers create beauty but in two drastically different ways.
As Spiff CEO and Founder, Jeron Paul, once put it, “Being an artisan is going from 0-1 and being an engineer is going from 1-N. Consider an example where you want to build a business to sell guitars. The artisan part of the job is making a perfect, unique, and enduring new kind of guitar. The engineering part of the job is scaling up production of those guitars so that you can build thousands that match the quality of the first one. In all of our jobs, no matter what we do, we have to invent new processes and scale them up.”
Fostering Both Your Inner Engineer and Artisan
So, why are we talking about this? Why is Spiff, a sales commission software, talking about the difference between artisans and engineers? It’s a good question. And it’s something we ask ourselves regularly during conversations about our company culture. What do we care about, why do we care about it, and why should we talk about these things publicly?
At Spiff, we make it a point to not prescribe a set of specific shared values to the people we hire and work with. Do we want to hire kind, smart, honest, caring people? Of course. But our internal concept of leadership hinges on the fact that true leaders have a whole arsenal of values and skills and they understand that different situations require different approaches. Therefore, the best leaders know how to show up in any given situation to generate the best possible results.
All of this is to say that, at Spiff, we want our team to foster both their inner artisan and their inner engineer. Know when to put in the grunt work to produce a one-of-a-kind result. And, know when to think big picture and use logic and data to build scalable systems.
No matter what department you work in or what your specialty is, we believe that, in order to be good at your job, you must practice being both an artisan and an engineer every single day.
What does it look like in practice to be both an artisan and an engineer?
In order to show you what we mean, we asked Spiff employees to tell us how they’re both an artisan and an engineer. Here’s what they said:
Adam LeMmon, Senior Software Developer
Becky Potvin, Solutions Architect
Ashton Wiersdorf, Software Engineer
Brian Silverio, Senior Client Success Manager
Giselle Bell, Senior Technical Recruiter
Chris Melville, Sales Engineer
Matt Stapleton, Co-Founder & COO
Jeron Paul, Co-Founder & CEO
Raffa Fossa, IT Helpdesk Representative
Jonathan Warren, Director of Revenue Operations
Reid Bundy, Software Engineer
Jonathan Bechtold, Senior Marketing Operations Manager
Ryan Lumba, Talent Experience Coordinator
Stan James, VP of Sales
Shana Martinez, Customer Success Education Manager
Tom Rogers, Senior Account Executive
Taylor Redding, Director of Analytics & Business Intelligence
Final Thoughts About Being Both an Artisan and an Engineer
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re a seasoned founder of ten different companies, there’s always something you can learn from and improve on. We hope this blog post inspires you to be more thoughtful about how and why you do things. And, ultimately, we hope you foster both your inner artisans and engineers.
Can you be more like an artisan in your role? Is there anything that might benefit from a little more time and hands-on effort? Or, is there something that requires the mind of an engineer? Something that might be more productive or efficient if automated? Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and let us know how you’re both an artisan and an engineer.
Spiff is a new class of software that creates trust across the organization by delivering real-time automation of commission calculations and motivates teams to drive top-line growth. With a combination of an intuitive UI, real-time visibility, and seamless integrations into current systems, Spiff is the first choice among high-growth businesses. Spiff’s sales compensation platform enables finance and sales operations teams to self-manage complex incentive compensation plans and provides transparency for sales teams.