I argue that people almost turn to the robot mode when they are subject to a very mundane routinic type of daywork. Robot or the executor mode is the safest bet: you don’t get to think a lot, you don’t get to take risks, you just rebeat and always take-on the easy routes. That is fine and can get things done. You don’t necessarily want your Tirhal driver to be creativing about driving…
It is always “It depends”, however, and the more you be creative about when to be in the robot mode, the more I’d argue you will gain more solid and concrete results from your peak “creative moments”.
For managers and team leads, they should also get better at identifying the type of engineers they are working with: it is okay to have “the boring engineers” and it is definitely OK to have the rogue (or rather the creative ones!). Boring engineers seem to be more favored and they do land really good gigs. For the creative types, I noticed that their top managment ego’s get in their way. It is okay to be outshined by a younger, more passionate, and more creative engineer. Their eagerness to tackle new challenges and their ability to think beyond the constraints that others’ might have surely makes them great assets.
There is no simple-to-follow recipe on how one can get the most out of their robot hours. But one point I would like to make is that Boring tasks accelerates one’s burnout. It is a process, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves, but also companies and managers are also responsible for ensuring that their subordinates are maintaining a healthy balance of creative-boring tasks.
Next time we can go and further discuss how the lame-ass office parties are really NOT your engineers are looking forward to.