Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Kevin Taylor - Rebel Scum??

This is a blog post written by Glen Cooper (another Engineer) about me, enjoy (well I did);

It’s becoming easier to be Rebel Scum
Last post I mentioned Kevin Taylor. A structural engineer who has worked his way through engineering technician status, had a long stint checking calculations for a local authority, and now busies himself with running his own one-man-band engineering practice [+ sub consultants].
Since posting up the links to his engineering websites to my [blog], I have had the opportunity to briefly chat with him on the telephone. I asked a few questions, like about how and why he is trying to push into a predominantly web based market? Also, I enquired as to how his business was fairing – at this stage.
A summary of Kevins’ online ventures can be found within the [links] at the end of my last post.
What drew me to Kevin’s online [businesses] was his apparent disregard for formalities. Paying no homage to the tried and tested business plans, which exist within smaller structural and civil engineering enterprises. The man has a plan, and it appears that he is not afraid to journey into the unknown, just to see what happens.
As you can imagine – I’m loving that. As an engineer, designer, creative and fledgling entrepreneur… I’m loving that adventurous spirit.
Please do not misunderstand me, Kevin obviously has thought long and hard before committing time and money to his ventures. Citing business and engineering role models such as Chris Wise, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Bill Gates, Kevin appears to have transferred our trade mark engineering ‘have a go’ attitude into his businesses too.
The question is; will the time spent, pay off for him? To put it in Kevin’s words “Time will tell” and “I didn’t go into this expecting immediate results”. Good man.
What I think is that this form of engineering business style is only the beginning. Since the established ‘mini-me’ consultancy paradigms seem to rely [in part] upon following the same analogous route of putting in time, leveraging connections, earning your stripes [blah, blah], and making the most of any opportunities thrown our way, it is only logical that small companies like Kevin’s, will grab more and more ground through guerilla style marketing techniques. Or indeed, they will evolve in such ways so that the limitations in growth set by the larger, established engineering and construction companies become insignificant, and easy to circumnavigate.
Another question we should be asking ourselves as engineers is, what are we physically doing to reinforce or break down the status-quo of our industries historical business practices here? Why is it becoming easier to rebel, and who stands to benefit from the ensuing anarchy?
From my personal viewpoint – so long as we have strive for ingenuity and ethical behaviour; we are professionally capable, knowledgeable, AND we do not expose ourselves, our clients and benefactors to unesseccary risks… then innovation will out itself eventually. So change is a foot, and is a good thing.
  • Why is it easier to rebel? The long tale has become unsettled, and is begging for change. Faster, more pervasive communication is readily available.
  • Who stands to benefit? We all do. Even those who stand to loose the most, will gain a newly motivated, educated and business-like workforce.
So what is standing in the way of change? I could say tradition. I might even be tempted to utter the word loyalty. Loyalty to a business paradigm which non-longer deserves our undying faithfulness to it.
The problem with both of those words, is with what value do you attach to them? Especially when your business is cracking up, or you are being pushed from one redundancy package to another. Or indeed, you can’t even seem to give your time away to a local engineering consultancy, just so you can flesh out your CV, in readiness for better times.
Times are not good for the long tail… or are they?
I finished my last blog by remarking that I was scared, and I also invited the readers of this blog, to pose an answer as to why this might be the case. No comments back. But that’s OK, because I am quite happy to reveal to you my thoughts.
There is an entrepreneurial spirit out there, amongst us engineers. With every new business start-up, the owners dreams [like seeds] are being cast upwards and outwards in the hope that they will land fortunately, and germinate in a nutritious environment.
The truth is, there really is no fertile soil left. We have over farmed this particular field.
Yes, Long tails like Kevin can survive in a less than welcoming environment, and represent the metaphorical localised testing of new ‘super crops’. Unfortunately though, it is still far too easy to remain on the sidelines, to criticise, to abstain from providing support and to apply the ‘if I had a time machine’ retort to each and every venture we witness.
I’m scared because, what Kevin needs is support. Support from his clients and from his peers. But will he get it? Only the remaining engineering long-tails can answer that. That’s you and me [of course].
As you know, I launched a small collaborative effort which has only cost me time, energy and the sharing of another idea from my mind. An experiment; the results of which are expected to help me plan my next engineering endeavour. By the way, please keep coming back here and supporting me where ever you can!
I really appreciate the emails and messages through LinkedIn. They all keep me going.
To finish off I would like to leave you with this cool reminder. We do make a difference to each others lives, careers, futures. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you are on your own in this world. There are always people out there who can help you – should they choose to.
So give innovation a go. Kevin is.

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