After a bit more thought I have concluded that the companies run by those who see concensus as the way to do everything deserve every bit of grief that they get. The reality is that not all ideas are of equal value, and not all engineers are equal in their skill sets. So, basing a decision making process on the theory that nobody has a better idea is a fairly certain way to assure that the best choices are never made. Those who choose to run the show based on that concept should be left to fail, so that there will be more room for companies that have a better understanding of reality.
And from my experience one of the worst things to do would be to put on a schedule the amount of time it would take to make the decision or sign the paper work. People at the top of the food chain did not want to know that they were the cause of delays.
I love this idea. To go a step further I used to request that sales/marketing put together projections regarding what the end result would produce. Unfortunately, no one ever held anyone accountable for those projections. But the thought was a good idea. I figured if it was such a big deal to have that solution by a certain time. It would have to result in additional sales that would have to be met.
Being in that same situation I saw good engineer after good engineer follow each other right out the door. It's too bad that this has become the way that some people think they should manage. Hopefully, those reading this magazine will think and do differently when they are give n the opportunity.
Tim--I also worked for a company that put forth stretch goals and realistic goals and it was always hard to distinguish. Sometimes marketing (of all people) had a better view of what the desired result was. I always made it a point to request to accompany the marketing/sales folks several times a year when they made customer visits or presentations. It kept everybody grounded and gave engineering some leads on what the enduser really wanted.
Some companies have stretch goals that are the cornerstone of their business model. I worked at a company that was similar to what you described. My company would give you a few goals at the beginning of the year. Some of the goals were stretch goals that you were not expected to meet and some were not. The problem was that you did not know which goals were stretch goals, so you had to guess which ones were worth heavy pursuing.
I retired from a company in which programs were scheduled from right to left. In other words, management knew when the product had to be launched--then, they went to the "boys" in engineering and had them fill in the milestones dates to "make it happen". Oh by the way, we always had a stretch target; a completion date sooner than the actual launch date. One huge problem, there were days in which we had up to six or even seven meetings to discuss the program. Management would demand the engineers attend so they could understand why we were behind. An additional problem--no decisions were made by individuals responsible for the program. Every decision had to be a "group effort". Because of personnel schedules, some decisions were delayed for days. Corporate life can be hazardous to your health.
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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