I have a dream to create a robot making company. I have graduated in AI field and have some ideas about it, but as the robot making is a multi deciplinary work and needs Electrical and mechanical engineering knowledges as well, I don't know what can I do for those parts? I mean how can I hire proper electrical/mechanical engineers? How should I lead them when I don't have skills in their field? Even if I do hire CTO guys to lead them, how can I evaluate those CTO guys's work and understand if they are screwing?

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    Does this answer your question? How do I treat people working under me?
    – MikeQ
    Feb 13 '20 at 18:18
  • Are you still looking to do AI work? If so, you probably want to be the CTO while you hire someone else to run the company.
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 2:14
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    Why was this closed? Yes, there are a lot of question marks, but OP is essentially asking the same thing each time. Don't close the question, edit it to be more concise if you feel it needs it. I (and at least 7 upvotes) don't see any problems with asking how to lead multidisciplinary teams without experience in those disciplines. Vote to reopen.
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 5:58
  • i vote to keep it closed as too broad. It basically asks "how to hire people", because you always hire people to solve problems you can't or don't have resources to solve yourslelf Feb 15 '20 at 0:46

There's two parts to this question.

First part: "I am afraid of dealing with people smarter and more skilled than me!"

Uh, no. Terrible way of looking at it. If you're a manager, your goal should be to hire as smart, as competent, and industrious of people as you can. If you don't do that? Oh, sure, you'll be smarter than your underlings... but your team will suck and your performance will suffer as a result.

If it helps, picture it this way: Alice Q Genius and Bob Mehville both are looking for a CTO job. You decide to hire Bob... and Alice goes to work for another company, quite likely a competitor. Which company fares better - the one that got the 'meh' CTO, or the one that got the whip-smart one? Clearly the company that hires Alice is going to be better off - which is doubly worse if that 'other company' is competing with yours. And imagine if Bob Mehville thinks the same as you, and it comes time to hire some developers/engineers/whatever, where everyone is 'not quite as smart' as Bob? Care to imagine what talent your company would be losing, simply because management doesn't want smart employees?

The second part is this: "how can I evaluate those CTO guys's work and understand if they are screwing?"

My boss doesn't know C#. He doesn't know SQL. He doesn't know the APIs of the vendors we work with. Or any of that.

But that doesn't mean he doesn't make sure I'm not goofing around all day. All he has to know is:

  • What's Kevin generally working on?
  • What's the timeframe of his current tasks?
  • Are the clients happy?

That's the part that I think you're missing. You're viewing this as "I'm a AI expert and I want to run an robotics company - but I don't have the engineering knowledge!"

No, the skillset you're missing isn't engineering: it's management. If you're going to run a company, your important skillset isn't the nuts-and-bolts of AI: it's how to manage people and how to navigate the business world.

  • Very thank you Kevin, but I still have a problem with "What's the timeframe of his current tasks?". Who should create this timeframe? If the developer/engineer must do it him/herself, how can I evaluate it, If I have not enough knowledge about the work? Feb 13 '20 at 18:50
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    Why do you feel you have to set the timeframe? If my boss asks me to "Develop a SQL stored proc that does X, Y, and Z," and I tell him, "That'll take me about 3 weeks." ... he'll generally trust me that it'll take 3 weeks. Especially if I'm able to give regular status updates on what parts I'm working on or have finished. My boss might not know how to do what I'm doing, but that doesn't mean he can't manage what I'm doing. That's why I said you're missing a management skillset. Part of management is finding good employees and then empowering them to do a good job.
    – Kevin
    Feb 13 '20 at 20:48
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    It's the manager's job to know what value the company will get from having the task done, and whether that is the best use of Kevin's time for three weeks. Feb 13 '20 at 21:05
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    In the comment, OP is asking how to know if it's actually 3 weeks when Kevin says 3 weeks. That response was kind of a non-answer. You indirectly said your manager trusts you, so is that all there is to it? Trust the engineer and hope you don't get conned?
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 1:59
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    Another thing to remember is that senior/capable engineers have higher salaries, but often junior engineers are more expensive, because bug-fixes and failures cost money too!
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 6:30

In general, you want to hire people who have a proven history of success in the role you hire them for and who share your vision for the company. It’s not expected that you have in-depth knowledge of every skill your subordinates/partners possess (though it helps to have at least a high level understanding of what they’re doing.)

Don’t confuse leadership with micromanagement. As Steve Jobs put it, "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."

I am afraid of dealing people smarter and more skilled than me!

You need to get over this fear right now if you want to be successful in business. First of all, different kinds of people are better in different areas. You can't possibly expect to be the best at everything. Secondly, the success of the company is more important than satisfying your own ego. The last thing you want is for the people you hire to not show their best work because the boss is afraid of getting outshined.


A business like that isn't going to be easy to setup. Not only will you need engineers but you will need legal, marketing etc...

The majority of your staff will be doing things you don't understand yourself. You hire people with proven experience (via portfolios and references) and trust them. You will know if they aren't performing by the results they produce.

  • What magic do you use to know if they aren't performing, based on the results? If I say "hey, i did this thing" and you don't know how to check that my thing is actually a thing, then who do you know that i did a thing, before it's too late?
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 4:52
  • I mean, i think you're in general correct, but if the answer is "you have to trust people," then the next obvious question will be "how to know who to trust?"
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 4:53
  • You have to use your judgement. It isn't your job to check, as you don't have the time or skills. That's why you hired them in the first place. All you can do is look at the thing, and think either: yes that looks right, or nah that looks wrong. - Also you should have several engineers. If they all agree it's good then that's what you go with.
    – flexi
    Feb 14 '20 at 9:44
  • In the situation it's wrong or they aren't actually building what they say, then that's just business i'm afraid, it happens.
    – flexi
    Feb 14 '20 at 9:45
  • I think there is much more that you can do besides just trusting someone. That's why "hiring departments" exist. Personality tests, specialized knowledge tests, interviews, recommendations, showing a portfolio--these are all techniques that are believed to increase your chance of finding someone who can and will perform well
    – Mars
    Feb 14 '20 at 9:47

As other answers have pointed out, you'll need management skills more than you'll need engineering skills.

But you'll still need engineering skills.
Even if you have great management knowledge, I'd bet the amount of competent managers in the IT space without tech experience are far less than those who have worked first in a technical role.

It's nice to dream big, but you also need to ground those dreams in reality. If robotics is really your dream, I don't think you should have any issue with working in industry (at least at first), hopefully alongside those interdisciplinary people. When you have a more complete grasp of things, you'll be able to better achieve your dream.

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