Thoughts on the Engineering Industry

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Archive for the tag “leadership”

Achieving Long Term Goals Using the Rule of Three

Hello everyone, I hope everything is going well.  Today I want to go off of the usual engineering topic and share a recent idea I heard about from a guest speaker at a church event.  The idea is to basically limit yourself to a few important tasks for the day to meet your short term and long term goal obligations you have selected for yourself.  I’ve heard several variations of this, but the recent version I heard about is the “rule of three” as used by General Norman Schwarzkopf.

The initial step to this is having an overall plan for your life and creating goals to achieve them.  Maintaining a personal life plan has been something I’ve done for a while now.  I learned this process from Michael Hyatt – if you are curious for more information on this it is described in an e-book at the following link: http://goo.gl/2P01pi.  The basic premise is to figure out what you want to be known for, describe your life around that narrative, and set goals to accomplish that.  The goal setting part is the crux of this.  Most people can tell you what they want to be known for and the preferred life around that vision with a little bit of thought.  The difficult part is setting some achievable goals and completing them.

This is where the rule of three comes into practice.  In accomplishing the goals for this life plan, it is best to focus on doing a few things well throughout the week.  The rule of three is an organized method of doing this.  The method follows as such, set 3 tasks for the day, 3 goals for the week, 3 goals for the month, and 3 goals for the year.  This means that you are focusing on three relatively simple tasks.  However, it also ensures that you are keeping in mind your goals for your week, month, and year accordingly.  Along with benefits in general life goals, it looks better in other areas of your life.  The best example given in the talk is in reports to your boss.  Which sounds better – “I have made progress on 7 tasks” or “I have completed 3 tasks?”  The takeaway from this is that having an ambitious goal for your life is important, but that breaking it up into manageable chunks is critical.  The Rule of Three is a simple system to apply in breaking up your goals into tasks.

What is your preferred method for setting and accomplishing goals?  Do you think the Rule of Three is a practical method or do have something that you think works better? If you enjoyed my post, follow my blog for updates and share this post with your friends.  Thanks for reading and have a good week!

Incorporating Engineering into Government to Improve National Programs

Hello everyone, I hope y’all have been doing well.  Today I would like discuss ways to improve our country by involving engineers and engineering concepts in the management of our national systems.  I have narrowed it down what I believe to be the 5 basic ideas.  As a reference, I have used data and assertions made by Evan Twarog in an article describing the role technocracy in China.

1) Become more technocratic in regards to politics

Data shows that the government is mostly run by engineers in China and in the government in the US is mostly run by lawyers.  In addition, Chinese people believe that knowledgeable elite should run the government which led to a technocracy being a part of the political system.  Based on the way government seems to operate in the US, I could see a shift towards the concept technocracy being beneficial for the U.S. as well.  Especially considering some of the issues that confront us, such the deterioration of the infrastructure, climate change, drought in various areas through out the country, and the production of energy in regards oil, wind, solar, etc.  A technocracy provides the critical knowledge and skill sets to properly deal with these issues.

2) Any problem can be solved with an engineering mindset

Engineers have a unique skill set that allows them to solve problems through a standard process.  On a personal level, I apply this mindset to difficult decisions in my life.  I bet you a lot of engineers say the same thing.  I don’t know about them but it works well for me.  And when considering the successes and failures of both China and the U.S., a correlation between the application of technology and the engineering mindset can be observed.  A good example of that in the U.S. is the space program and national arms race in general.  It is this correlation that leads to believe that the engineering problem solving mindset would be a good framework to apply to struggling government processes and programs.

3) An education in a technological field is more respected by society

For years, the culture in China has valued being technologically informed.  This means that changes in the direction of the country are more easily understood and communicated to the masses.  This is not to say there aren’t people capable of doing that here in the U.S., but there still seems to be a large portion of the political system that caters to the lowest common denominator instead of embracing the intelligence of the U.S. population.

4) Some projects need support from the government to succeed

A lot of the great engineering accomplishments require a large amount resources to back them up.  There are very few people and companies that can fully implement these systems.  This means that if there is some technology or engineering program that would improve our country and it is sufficiently large enough that it would be difficult for private organizations, government should not be afraid to step in and help.  If applied with an engineering problem solving mindset and backed by an informed public, these projects should benefit the country overall.

5) Export your technology for economic profit

This is where the practicality of investing money in solving these problems is realized.  In a perfect world, providing infrastructure and services to improve the lives of people is enough.  But government cannot be expected keeping doing so if it cannot be maintained as far as resources are concerned.  This means that sharing the technology nets the government money which can be used to further improve in other areas.  Business concepts like public-private partnerships were designed to improve profits and gains for the country through the development of these infrastructure and service ideas.  If we can keep this end goal in mind, it can ensure that all government systems improve the country socially and economically.

What is your opinion on these 5 concepts?  Is there anything you would add or take away and why?  If you enjoyed reading the blog post, be sure to like the post and share it with your friends.  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Source

“The Three Gorges Dam, Why China is Run by Engineers”, Twarog, Evan, Atomic Insights, April 13, 2015, http://goo.gl/sZf3Zn

What does it truly mean to be an expert?

Hello everyone! I hope y’all had a good week.  Today I just wanted to share a quote I read online that describes what it means to be an expert in a field of study.  The quote is from Pablo Picasso: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Pablo Picasso is well known for his abstract art that was definitely considering breaking the rules at the time.  Yet he was a legitimately good artist, which means he was technically a professional painter.  It initially seems like a a quote anecdotally reference to his views as an artist. However, if you dig a bit deeper into what is really beings said, it can be applied to a lot of different fields of study.  Think about a business man.  He might have some issues in selling a product.  There is probably a standard process that is followed to resolve the standard issues, but in this case it might not apply.  Therefore, by knowing the rules, he knows when is the right time to break them to achieve the results he desires.  It can be applied to engineering or science type stuff as well.  Every new break through in science and engineering occurred because some who would be considered a pro and studied in their field made a connection that hadn’t been made before.  They succeeded because they went against the norm (“broke the rules”) at the right time and discovered a way to improve a product, project or application.  So with this greater concept in mind, it becomes clear that an expert in any field of study knows not only when to follow the standard rules in a given situation, but also when those rules don’t apply and another solution needs to be found.

With that being said, I am going to leave you guys with this thought and hopefully you can implement it well in your career or life general – never get so caught up in the rules that you forget to break them when it comes time to do so.  As I have told many people before about my job, I have a lot of boring days where people wonder why I need my degree and other technical skill sets to do my job.  However, that knowledge informs me when a serious situation could come up that needs to be addressed, and I used that knowledge to prevent any further issues.  How do you guys interpret the quote?  Is there a particular story and event that describes your opinion?  If you enjoyed reading, like the post and share it with your friends.  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Image Source

“Problem-solving is the Problem”, Florian Totu, blog.opteemum.net, August 10, 2012, http://goo.gl/YNzbI4

The Controversial Leadership Qualities of Tony Stark

Hello everyone, I hope your week is going well.  My summer has gotten off to a good start and for once I’ve found a few opportunities to travel which should be fun.  Being broke has hindered that the last few summers and it will definitely be refreshing after so long without a good vacation.  Today I wanted to talk about Tony Stark as a controversial example of company leadership.  I was inspired to write this after reading an article about this by someone else, but I have a slightly different opinion than her.

Dana Theus wrote a blog post called “Iron Man for CEO?” in which she talks about whether or not she thinks Tony Stark would be a good CEO.  She believes that people like the character of Tony Stark because he represents the arrogant, maverick and bad-boy type CEO.  However, those same qualities make her think that most people would actually dislike working for him.  In a survey she referenced, the qualities that Tony Stark has are seen as bad qualities in a CEO.  She goes on to point at that the same study showed that people valued these supposedly feminine qualities more:

  • Connectedness: Form/maintain human connections.
  • Humility: Listening, learning, sharing credit.
  • Candor: Willingness to speak openly and honestly.
  • Patience: Recognize that some solutions emerge slowly.
  • Empathy: Sensitivity to others that promotes understanding.
  • Trustworthiness: Track record and character that inspires confidence.
  • Openness: Being receptive to all people and concepts.
  • Flexibility: Ability to change and adapt as circumstances require.
  • Vulnerability: The courage to be human and make mistakes.
  • Balance: A well-rounded sense of purpose.

She sums this up by saying that all of these qualities imply that employees value stability and emotional intelligence in their leaders more.

However, I feel that there are some good qualities that Tony Stark has as well.  While it may not easy to define, I think it can be summed up in four basic qualities.  His biggest asset is that he can come up with a plan, present it to others well and motivate other people to help him execute that plan.  The second quality that he is completely involved and up-to date in his field of science and technology which is important for the leader of any company.  The third quality he has is that he engages people.  He may not always be perfectly tactful or politically correct; but when he is talking, telling a story, conversing with anyone – he captures their attention and can capitalize on that.  And the last quality is that he gets excited and energized by leading people, and this pushes him to work hard in his field.

It is my opinion that the optimum CEO does all of these on some level.  Clearly, it would be rare for a CEO to have all of the qualities listed above to a strong level.  However, it is my opinion that a good CEO makes sure that either he or other people in upper management can provide all of these qualities because they are all essential.  An employee needs a leader that can be empathetic and humble in their relations, but they also need someone to make strong predictions, clear expectations, well formulated plans, and provide inspiration.  It is my opinion that a high quality CEO would create an environment where an employee sees all of these qualities of the company through at least one person in the first couple tiers of management.  What is your opinion on what is required of a leader?  Do you have any good examples of CEO’s who are good leaders?  Have a good week! 🙂

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