My friends own a farm in the southwest of France, and though I spent most of my recent decades around big cities, my village-raised roots are sending me working in the fields every time I have the time. I don’t really care what I’m assigned to, as long as soil, the nearby forest trees, and the sky (preferably blue) will take part. If the job consists of repeating actions, I like to come up with an efficient way of doing it.
It’s not because I’d like to finish it fast, I just like doing my job in a new way every time. Finding a new way means you have an old one. You start a task for the first time and you execute it as you were shown or in the way that looks natural. Then, after a while, you realize you can change the order of things, share the tasks within the team differently, and the machine is shifting gears. Say you are building a new fence around a newly planted vegetable field, and suddenly a two-day job ends in a few hours. This is a great feeling.
Working as a verification engineer, manager, tools developer, I’ve been observing engineers doing work they are familiar with for over 20 years. It always amazes me how little innovation our verification job demands from us. I could apply today’s verification techniques that I learned some 20 years back at National Semiconductor and I’d still be okay. I’d imagine that in software, as an example, my knowledge from back then would be mostly irrelevant. The fundamentals of good engineering remain the same, but there is always a better way to do something. All you have to do is discover it.