This article by Tim Hartford: The Airplane That Saved the World-What the RAF's World War II Spitfire can teach us about nurturing innovation and radical ideas. got my imagination working overtime--wondering what these guys looked like, what kind of minds and hearts they had to drive them, and of course, made me wonder what they would be like in today's design settings.
In short, the article discusses how aviation engineers were asked that "Rather than rely on known technology...to abandon their orthodoxies and produce something completely new." The end result was the Spitfire--and probably the saving Grace to England and the allies in WWII. And in some ways, the birth of the Spitfire also indirectly (or directly, depending on how you look at it) lead to the development of the Lockheed Skunk-Works and similar type of innovation teams
The article also discusses the lessons learned by assessing technology-and hoping technology can help solve problems. The lesson learned? Don't put all your eggs into one basket--try variations. While not all results will be the next Spitfire, you still need to give space and encourage ideas to grow.
In today's world, would these gents be willing to put up with software constraints as they manically designed their so-called "radical" ideas? Would they accept a corporate mandate to use only "brand A" CAD because it was sanctioned by the company? Would they be okay starting from scratch if a design needed to be massaged? Instead of molding an idea like a block of clay, would they find instead that it felt like molding an idea out of popsicle sticks? My imagination shouts a resounding "hell no."
I don't seem them being bound by corporate strings, but often butting heads with the higher-ups to get their way--and I bet sometimes just because they could. And I suspect they would most likely be champions of Direct Modeling. I think they would like the freedom it gave them to do whatever the hell they pleased, especially if it meant they could focus on the design and not the software that TOLD them how to design. I think they would like that, in a moment of brilliance, they could dive right into their model and make a change, big or small, and keep the wheels of progress moving forward. And who cares what anyone else thinks, says or does.