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Good to Great: Why Some Network Engineers Make the Leap . . . And Others Don’t

February 26, 2018

The Five Critical Factors that Determine the Difference

To date, more than three million copies of Jim Collins’s book Good to Great have been sold, which is a testament to the interest companies have in continuous improvement and reaching that next level of performance. In the process of writing the book, Collins and his research team contrasted the companies that took the good-to-great step and with those that failed to make the leap. They wanted to know what was different, why one set of companies became truly great performers while the other set did not.

We at NetBrain took this same logic and applied it to network engineers. We wanted to know, why are some network engineers able to rise above the fray and stand noticeably above their peers? What are the traits that this select group adopts to make them great while others simply maintain the status quo? Is it an issue of knowledge, consistency, access to technology, or a combination of factors?

We as a team have identified five critical factors that determine whether network engineers are great at their job, or simply good.

Share knowledge: You can’t discount the role human nature plays in the professional environment. Many think that keeping critical information close to the vest makes them more valuable. However, we believe just the opposite. A good network engineer has knowledge; a great one shares it with the team, improving the performance of all.

Work collaboratively: The ability to sometimes suppress your own agenda in the interest of the common good is a trait shared by those who are great. Working with other groups to collaborate on a solution that benefits the organization as a whole is a must-have quality for a great network engineer.

Break data islands and silos: While working within the confines of a smaller environment may be more comfortable for many network engineers, it doesn’t always deliver the desired outcome for the company. Great network engineers make it their mission to dissolve islands and silos wherever possible.

Take an outcome-based approach: A good network engineer can implement requested changes to a network. A great network engineer understands the impact of a change before it’s made.  Change management is an issue many organizations struggle with, so having a great network engineer on your side that can anticipate and head off problems is a big plus.

Deep network knowledge: In the end, the primary responsibility of any network engineer is the health and continuous operation of the company network. A good engineer can apply troubleshooting best practices and fix an issue. A great engineer has a deep understanding of the network’s configuration and the visibility to get the network back up and running quickly in times of trouble.


Our ask of you? Evaluate yourself using the criteria above and let us know if you are one of the great network engineers every company is looking for. If you think we missed any critical factors, let us know that too.