I was the Engineering Manager at this one place and the VP would consistently demand project dates that he knew were unrealistic. I'd tell him it couldn't happen, I would show him Gant charts on why it wouldn't happen and then he'd have me write up a schedule that would produce his target date. My Engineers would do their best to reach each project milestone and each week we would have to explain why we weren't making the deadlines which were really arbitrary.
I suppose the VP felt that he had to flog the horse or else it wouldn't move, but I would have preferred to have him work with Engineering and realize that horses can't fly.
G-Whizzz, Certainly I agree with you on that. I think too many managers are still stuck in the Industrial Age instead of the Information Age. They wanted to know how long it took us to solve a problem (in my case programming) so they can estimate how long it would take for me to do it again.
If my former employer wanted my opinion, he told it to me.
I always said at that company the real story about that little boy and the emperor's clothes was that he was thrown into a dungeon and beheaded the next day.
I always viewed it as a head game to indoctrinate you into doing it their way without question.
@jmiller: That's a good point about managers who insist on unachievably agrressive deadlines with the idea that it will encourage people to work harder. Not only does this eventually drive away engineers who get tired of being constantly pushed on to do the impossible, but it also has a "boy who cried wolf" effect on those who remain: they stop taking deadlines seriously, since they know that even the managers don't take them seriously. Nobody worries too much about blowing a deadline they know wasn't intended to be met in the first place.
BrainiacV, All the BS training is a substitute for creative thinking .......when the management clowns that have never had a creative thought of their own and have ridden the wave of their predecessors become paralyzed they relied on the latest fashionable organizational "theory" to mask their obvious incompetence.
What surprises me is the number of sycophants that go along with it ......possibly because they are just as inept and oppertunistic.......so when someone fails to adopt the party line they are branded as not being a team player and have to endure the consequences because the reality is that it's not that easy to switch jobs.
So I have learned to suck it up, play the game and do the right thing anyway .....it's either that or join the other side.
Dave, you are 100% "Spot-On" in your response @JamesCAnder. However, before the company truly fails, there will be a prolonged period of uncertainty and blame. Think about Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", in the chapter entitled "Take time out to Sharpen the Saw" He gives the example of a manager who drives every person and every machine at 110%, increasing company profits significantly, and is promoted. When his replacement comes on to fill his vacancy, he finds the place in a shambles. Disgruntled employees, broken-down equipment, etc., so immediately calls for a period of retooling; which costs the company Millions. He then gets fired for being un-productive. Meanwhile the original manager has been promoted to his level of incompetence. The cycle is so typical and so easily recognized by those in the trenches who have lived it over and over again. I pray DAILY that Corporate America will WAKE up and stop the behavior --- the ultimate END is unavoidable. But many inept and greedy managers will profit greatly before it happens.
@tekochip: I think you raise an important point, which @dbull is also getting at -- engineers are often looking at just one part of a problem. This is particularly true in large companies like Navistar. Highly-specialized engineers in large organizations may assume that someone else is taking care of the "big picture" (which may or may not be the case), and that their job is just to concern themselves with the specific aspect of the project they are responsible for.
Conversely, in smaller, "leaner" organizations (which describes more and more of our workplaces), engineers may be so busy trying to fight fires on multiple fronts that they also fail to see the big picture.
Either way, our jobs involve dealing with complex, multifaceted problems. Doing so successfully requires a balance of teamwork and individual initiative that is not easy to achieve.
I remeber when I was in college that the idea that one plays well with others is the most important aspect of one's professional life. Never mind that most of what is accomplished by those types of people tends to border on the mediocre (and on which side of the border is your opinion).
Looking at history, a large number of the great advances came by an individual that didn't fit within the system. Conformity often means the the same product is produced again and again with little inovationa nd few new things tried. After all, those old ideas sold last year...
How many Edisons and Einsteins have we run out of our current groups because they didn't think like the group? And how many of those groups produced something of lesser value because they threw out the one who thought differently? Kind of like the account in the book The Skunk Works about talking to the Navy brass about a stelth ship design - "We don't build ships that way..."
And then I have also seen the idea of working well with the group pushed because it let someone, who thought they were the superstar, control the group and use the group as a way to justify his own flawed ideas. "But you all agreed..."
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With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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