Category: Professional Services

Professional Services Engineer or Surly Gifted-and-Talented Teenager?

Professional Services Engineers and Senior Customer Support Engineers, the Cranky Product Manager loves you.  She truly does.  

You get in there and make our products truly work– sing even! –for our most important customers, many of whom have really bizarre requests.  

You are ingenius, a MacGyver for the new century.  You can work around any product deficiency with a wad of gum, a Perl script, and a laptop stuffed with SSDs.

You keep the Cranky PM informed about what the customers are experiencing and the problems they face, and keep the Cranky Product Manager apprised of the experience of using her product day-to-day.  

You are great. And the Cranky Product Manager could not be prouder of you.  

Except for one thing:  your attitude.  You remind the Cranky Product Manager of a surly teenager.  A “gifted and talented” teen, to be sure, but an adolescent with all the part and parcel attitude problems.  

Witness the Cranky Product Manager’s awesome chart:

  Surly Gifted-and-Talented Teenager

Professional Services Engineer
/ Sr. Customer Support Engineer

General Attitude Embittered and feeling put-upon by parents’ rules. Embittered and feeling hampered by all the product’s warts and failings.
Opinion of self

Convinced she is brilliant and her parents are biggest idiots ever, and that everyone else’s parents are cooler.

Convinced that Dysfunctosoft Engineering are biggest idiots ever, because Engineering requires months to add the product feature when he hacked up an absolutely brilliant work-around within a few weeks. 

Ability to Understand Not Everyone is Like Him/Her If her best friend thinks something is cool, then she does too. Even if any reasonable person can clearly see otherwise. Believes that if his customer needs this feature, then surely everyone does.  Even if it has no alignment with future product direction, obfuscates the user interface, or would take effort away from more critical areas.
Understanding of Broader World Remarkably naive about life outside her home/school, but thinks she knows all from watching a lot of reality TV. Knows nothing about writing production-worthy code that will work for hundreds of customers, not just one: scaling, internationalization, integration, standards, platform support, testability, user experience, error handling, APIs, etc.  Thinks he already solved 90% of the problem when he really only solved 10%.
Political Savvy If Mom says no, asks Dad. If Dad says no, ask Mom.  If both say no, involves the grandparents or teachers.

If Engineering says “no” to including the hacked-up workaround in official code-base, lobbies Product Management, Sales, and the CEO/GM.


To gain a privilege, promises to do an unpleasant task like cleaning out the garage.

Then does not do it.  Parents nag her for weeks before finally giving up.

Under political pressure, Engineering caves and agrees to add the hack to the official product code base, but ONLY if the PS engineer makes the code thread-safe, uses standard libraries, etc.

Naturally, this never happens.  Count on the PS Engineer to get very busy on a customer crisis instead.