Most successful leaders and engineers share something in common. They are integrative thinkers that know how to turn opposing ideas into better solutions by using elements of each one. It’s this way of thinking that helps them improve upon existing designs. Let’s take a closer look at how engineers think differently and why it’s so helpful in the cybersecurity domain.

Engineers vs. Conventional Thinkers

Engineers think differently than conventional thinkers in many different ways. First of all, they welcome complex problems because solving them often leads to innovation. Conventional thinkers prefer simplicity and want to avoid thinking deeply about steps in the problem-solving process. Here are some more specific qualities that set integrative thinkers apart from other people:

  • Engineers think analytically. Einstein said, “if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.” Engineers rely on their analytical thinking skills to break complex problems down into simpler parts. This way of thinking helps you to avoid making costly assumptions.
  • Engineers think creatively. Instead of getting stuck on problems and quitting them, engineers think outside of the box to solve them. They don’t hesitate to ask how something works, why it was designed that way and what they can do to simplify it.
  • Engineers think economically. Finding cheaper ways to design things without compromising quality is the key to successful engineering.
  • Engineers think persistently. If they are confronted with what seems to be an impossible problem, engineers keep searching until they find a solution.

Thinking Like an Engineer is Helpful

IT engineers use integrative thinking to develop advanced options and solutions to improve file encryption software. Businesses leverage it to improve their odds against cybercriminals. Thinking like an engineer helps make things more useful for everyday life too. For example, a team involved in MIT’s Assistive Technologies Hackathon improved the portability and battery life of a medical device designed for people with cerebral palsy.

Learning How to Think Like an Engineer

The good news is that integrative thinking is an ability that everyone can refine. But it can be difficult to overcome conventional thinking because we strive to simplify our personal and professional lives every chance we get. Fortunately, as we become more aware of the benefits and the process of integrative thinking, we can continue to promote its importance as a needed mindset in software engineering.

Finding innovative solutions would be next to impossible if engineers thought like everybody else. That’s why IT recruiters continue to support the teaching of engineering habits of mind in the education system.

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