Thursday, July 21, 2011

Engineering Management - Ten Destructive Leadership Mistakes

As a recent engineer-turned-manager, coming across bits of information to remind myself that not all great engineers make great managers are always a welcome find.  And when those bits of information explicitly state guidelines to follow, I sit up and pay attention.

John Hamm wrote an article in the May 2011 edition of PE magazine (by NSPE).  In it, he lists the Ten Destructive Leadership Mistakes that organizational leaders make.  Although the mistakes are better expressed by example, I'd rather not plagiarize John's work and instead will only list them here.  Sadly, NSPE membership is required to read the article online.

Avoid These Mistakes
  1. "Role playing" authenticity rather than living it.
  2. Understanding the impact of small acts of dishonesty.
  3. Being two-faced (and assuming others won't notice).
  4. Squelching the flow of bad news.
  5. Punishing "good failures."
  6. Letting employee enthusiasm fizzle.
  7. Refusing to deal with your "weakest links."
  8. Allowing people to "fail elegantly."
  9. Delaying decisions until it's too late.
  10. Underestimating the weight of your words and moods.
Even if...
Even if you are not a manager, engineers are often leaders.  Just by our education and experience people look to us as decision makers.  We also tend to lead project teams or are champions of our designs.  Mistakes, such as the ten listed above, have a negative impact in those situations as well and care should be maintained in order to avoid them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Hardware Store for Innovators

Do it yourselfers (DIY), or Makers as they are called now, are making a big impact on design and manufacturing.  Websites like Etsy allow you to take an idea and start selling it within hours.  No business start-up costs involved.  Other websites like Kickstarter allow you to get funding just by sharing a great idea.  And, it has the benefit of implying some initial marketing research on who and how many people are interested in your idea.

That's great, but where do people go to get supplies to make their ideas a reality?
They go to Inventables.

Inventables is the hardware store for innovation.  No longer are inventors forced to make a run to the local hardware store or Radio Shack (can you even buy electronic components at Radio Shack anymore) to build a mock-up of the product they really want to build.  Instead, they can get cutting edge, NASA grade materials to make their prototypes just like the real thing.  And some of these materials are simply amazing, the type of stuff that only a space agency could fund R&D for.

Words cannot describe the availability of rare and unique supplies available at Inventables just waiting to be used in the next great idea.  Pop on over, take a look, and let your creative juices flow.