Please visit our sponsors by clicking on banner.


ASEM Blog

Blog posts


Please visit our sponsors:

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 08 Dec 2020 10:16 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    4 Soft skills necessary for Entrepreneurs - Free Business Plans and Feasibility Studies in Nigeria

    by Sara Vick

    The words we use to name things matter. My favorite example of this is the fancy and expensive seafood: Chilean sea bass. You see, Chilean sea bass don’t come from Chile and they aren’t even bass. Rather, the name was invented by an American fish merchant to make Patagonian toothfish more marketable. The names we use matter.

    This is equally as important in engineering management as it is in fish merchandising. Consider the terms “soft skills” and “entrepreneurial skills”. Do they refer to the same skillset? If not, which skillset is more important for engineers to have? Would someone with a background in business rather than engineering agree? How do the different generations interpret the two terms? Are Baby Boomer hiring managers in search of applicants based on one term, while those applicants are marketing themselves as possessing the other term? 

    Based on results from a [preliminary survey done on the topic in 2018], this difference in terminology to describe what is essential the same group of skills – things like teamwork, systems thinking, responsibility, and strategic orientation – does create a divide between older generations and younger, between engineers and non-engineers, between managers and non-managers. For example, when asked which type of skill was more important for engineers to have, engineers claimed soft skills were more important while non-engineers said entrepreneurial skills were more important. Does that mean engineers don’t see the value of skills like negotiation, decision making, and financial management—skills more traditionally labeled as entrepreneurial?

    Branding is important. Just as it took a radical renaming to elevate the lowly Patagonian toothfish to the highest of Michelin tables, could changing the terminology used to describe the skills encompassed by “soft skills” and “entrepreneurial skills” open the door to dialog on the value of these skills to engineers?

    About the Author

    Sara Vick is an Industrial and Systems Engineering Ph.D. student at Mississippi State University where her research focuses on human expression through virtual mediums like video games. She was inspired to become an engineer by the HGTV show Mission: Organization and her life goal is the frustratingly vague “to help people by making the world better”.

  • 04 Dec 2020 9:26 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    by Don Kennedy, Ph.D., P.Eng., CPEM, FASEM

    I recently read a post on social media about causes of project failure. Many of the typical suspects were on the list, such as poor communication, lack of planning, ambiguous scope definitions, unrealistic goals, etc. But you almost never see luck on such a list.

    I will give an example of a small project I was on. It had a strictly required deadline. There was also a specific specialty component required. One vendor in New Jersey had it on the shelf for $40,000.

    Another vendor could make one in 16 to 18 weeks for $10,000. I had a budget of $50k for the item so I could buy both if I had to. I went with the cheap one which gave me a few days float. After 16 weeks, the vendor notified me that they would not have it in time. I bought the expensive one and started transporting it to site. It would just get there in time.

    Along the way, the truck transporting it had a tire blow out. A farmer heard the noise and came out of his house. A cow was dead. He claimed that the noise of the tire scared the cow and killed it. Although he appeared to have average cows, he also claimed the one that died happened to be a prize cow worth $30,000. The flat tire and giving the farmer a bit of money to go away put the project slightly over budget and a day late on the critical schedule. It was a failure. I did not learn anything from this and would do everything the same next time. It was just bad luck even with a great contingency plan.

    W. Edwards Deming is often called the “Man Who Discovered Quality”. One point he often stressed is how Engineering Managers might spend a lot of effort in measuring performance of workers. Yet many times, the actual outcomes are just the result of dumb luck and the decisions made by those doing the measurement. It is an ongoing effort to educate new managers to critically think about their actions and the impacts of these on the organization. For the above project things did not work out. But to my credit other times luck was on my side. Should I be rewarded when things work and punished when they do not? Such are the questions discussed amongst the people who look at management for a living.

    Quality quote #1 | Quality quotes, Quotations, Deming

    About the Author

    Dr. Donald Kennedy, Ph.D., P.Eng., CPEM is a fellow of ASEM. He has worked on many large projects in a variety of industries for more than 50 companies. He hopes to retire soon if he can stay employed just a little longer.

  • 02 Dec 2020 5:33 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    by Paul Kauffmann, PhD, PE, CPEM, FASEM

    One of the consistent and critical challenges for engineering and technical managers is to assure employees are treated fairly and consistently. Job grading systems that logically rate, compare, and evaluate various positions are a foundation for this effort. Consider a few related questions: How does a manager fairly compare a data analyst, a system programmer, and a senior mechanical engineer in a specific organization? How does the organization measure the relative values of these positions and identify appropriate and consistent pay ranges for these positions? National pay scales are easy to find but they do not reflect the job descriptions and the performance expectations of a specific organization and work context

    Frequently, methods involved in the job grading process are not well known and are too often neglected in engineering management education and training. The purpose of this article is to provide a basic overview of one of the common approaches used in many organizations: the Hay or Korn-Ferry method. According to one source, the Hay Method of Job Evaluation is the most widely applied method in the world, used by over 7,000 profit and non-profit organizations in some 40 countries.

    Although the Korn-Ferry system is proprietary, company literature and web searches reveal key details on how this job grading system works. For scientific, engineering, and technical positions, it examines three key factors (working conditions are often omitted in these “office” oriented occupations):

    1. Accountability measures the type and level of value a job can add and has three dimensions: Freedom to act, nature of impact, and magnitude of impact.
    2. Know-how reflects the sum total of every capability or skill, however acquired, needed for fully competent job performance. It also has three dimensions: Practical / technical knowledge, planning / organizing / integrating (managerial) knowledge, and communicating / influencing skills.
    3. Problem solving encompasses the use of know-how to identify, delineate, and resolve problems. This factor has two dimensions: Freedom to think and thinking challenge.


    Through a series of proprietary guide charts that can be calibrated for a specific organization, the Korn-Ferry system assigns points using a geometric scale to arrive at a point total for a position. Typically a 15% difference in points is the hurdle to distinguish different levels.

    This job level or step information can then be used for a wide range of applications such as pay grades, organization design, job design, and succession planning to name a few. For example, in a one-step difference, the lower role may be the successor to the higher role, or this might be a technical progression ladder path. Two step differences might serve to identify an unusual promotion move that needs to be rigorously explored. Three step differences might be a focus for career development or training programs.

    Many organizations have a series of committees to review the grading and point results for consistency and fairness. Although most of us avoid committee assignments, serving on a division or corporate Hay review committee can be a very worthwhile experience and teach a great deal about how the various parts of the company are structured and operate.

    About the Author

    Paul Kauffmann is ASEM’s past Executive Director and is Professor Emeritus at East Carolina University. Paul is a Professional Engineer and has over 20 years of industry experience in positions ranging from design engineer to plant manager and engineering director. He is a Fellow of ASEM and a Certified Professional in Engineering Management. He holds a BSEE and MENG in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech and a PhD in industrial engineering from Penn State.

  • 30 Nov 2020 11:30 AM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    by Pat Sweet, P.Eng., MBA, CSEP, PMP

    [This post is adapted from Episode 15 of the Engineering and Leadership Podcast.]

    As engineering managers, we all feel the burden of increasing workloads, growing complexity, and the pressure to perform. For many of us, the response to this added pressure is to work more. We get to work early. We work through lunch. We work late. We skip breaks. We spend our weekends at our keyboards. We try to stay on top of things and get sucked into “whack-a-mole” management – if I can just keep up, we reason, we win the game.

    The trouble with this approach, of course, is that you can’t keep up - not in the long run anyway. At some point, you hit terminal velocity, yet the work keeps building, and you start to fall behind.

    The solution? Engineering managers must learn to prioritize and focus on what’s most important.

    Doing the Right Thing vs. Doing Things Right

    If we accept the fact that our to-do list will never really be done, and that there will always be more work to do, then “doing it all” is illogical. The best course of action then, is to make sure you’re always using your time on what’s most important. 

    Most people believe that being productive is all about being efficient – getting things done as quickly as possible. In my productivity course for engineers, I teach that efficiency is absolutely important, but it takes a back seat to being effective. Where efficiency is about doing things right, effectiveness is about doing the right things – those things that are actually important. 

    Peter Drucker, the father of modern management once said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Prioritization is the act of choosing which tasks and projects are really worth doing.  

    How to Figure Out What’s Important

    Now we know that prioritization is all about choosing and doing what’s important. How do we go about figuring that out?

    Importance is determined by how well a given task or project supports your goals. If a project contributes in a significant way to either your goals or your team’s goals, then it’s important. If not, then it’s not important. 

    Importance is all about whether work moves you forward. All too often we get caught up in the urgency at the expense of the important. We make time for things that need to happen now if they’re to happen at all, regardless of whether they’re actually helping us achieve what we ultimately want to achieve. 

    The real crux of prioritization, then, is about understanding your goals in a concrete way, and making sure your work is helping you achieve those goals.

    Learning the Art of Prioritization

    The first thing you need to do in order to learn to prioritize is to get clear on your goals and the work you have on your plate. List your goals on paper, including deadlines and clear descriptions of what it means to have them be 100% complete. Do the same with your projects and tasks. Next, you can determine how each project supports each goal using a house-of-quality-style assessment. 

    For most people, many projects support goals, but many others either don’t contribute or actively get in the way. That should tell you a lot about which projects ought to be priorities, and which ones should be delegated, deferred, or deleted from your list.

    Once you know which projects are important (those that support goals), you can plot your projects in an Eisenhower Matrix – a quad chart that has importance on one axis and urgency on the other. I prioritize my projects as follows:

    • Priority 1 – Important and urgent

    • Priority 2 – Important but not urgent

    • Priority 3 – Urgent but not important

    • Priority 4 – Neither urgent nor important

    Next Steps

    Take some time today to write up your goals and projects lists. Even without doing any kind of in-depth analysis, you can intuitively start to make sense of things just by capturing what all is on your plate. Just understanding the lay of the land can do wonders for productivity and helping you prioritize the right work. 

    About the Author

    Patrick Sweet, P.Eng., MBA, PMP, CSEP is a recognized expert in engineering management, productivity, and leadership.  He is also the host of the popular Engineering & Leadership Podcast, a show dedicated to helping engineering managers thrive. Download his free productivity guide “Finding the 6th Day” to learn how to create 8 hours of additional productive time this week.

  • 23 Nov 2020 3:42 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    by Atul Kalia

    EMBOK Domain 2 covers “Leadership and Organizational Management”. This is arguably the hardest Engineering Management aspect to learn and master. Let me explain why I feel so. Leadership and organizational management involves inspiring individuals to be their best self and leading teams and organizations through transformational change. This involves self-awareness as a leader, understanding others behaviors and then utilizing this knowledge to drive transformational behavioral change. In fact any other EMBOK domain, e.g. Project Management, that requires a good understanding of the human psyche, is a challenging domain. Other domains that deal with Technology, Quality, Operations, Supply Chain, etc. are also very difficult but perhaps not as dependent on the vagaries of human nature.

    How can we as Engineering Management professionals –educators as well as corporate managers– succeed in these difficult domains? Obviously there is no simple solution for this challenge. However, I would like to share key tips from a TED talk about changing behavior by Dan Ariely. Dan serves as a James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He has written 3 New York Times bestseller books.

    Dan mentions the example of a program where financial tips are taught to the attendees. Immediately after the program only 3-4% of attendees follow through on the changes taught in the course. Long term, this drops to less than 0.1%. Clearly behavioral change is very rare simply based on providing good information to people. This is true not just for financial education but for most topics including engineering management and leadership & organizational management.

    Dan talks about focusing on two things to ensure success in driving long-term behavioral change. These two things are similar to what is needed to send a rocket to space: reducing friction and providing fuel.

    Reducing Friction

    This concept involves reducing the difference in effort required for maintaining status quo and the effort required to enable the new behavior. In general, human tendency is to follow the path of least resistance. So we must understand the “friction” inherent in the new desired behavior and must figure out ways to reduce it.

    Dan mentions the example of an online pharmacy in his talk. The online pharmacy wanted people to switch from branded to generic medication for their condition. They asked patients to mail back a letter in case they wanted to switch to generic medication. The response was very poor. The task required effort. Status quo: keep getting a branded prescription requires less effort. After consultation with behavioral experts, the company sent letters to patients telling them that their prescription service would end unless they responded and explicitly stated their preference: branded or prescription drug. Now that they were forced to respond and with the same effort required to choose branded or generic, the majority of patients chose generic.

    How can we be aware of the effort required for behavioral change we seek in ourselves and others? Understand what is causing “friction”? How can we use that knowledge to trigger transformation?

    For example, let’s say an engineer is struggling in interactions with a key customer’s team. The engineer is not responding in a customer-centric manner. Hence, the engineer’s manager would like to trigger a behavioral change in the engineer. He wants to ensure that customers do not have to escalate to the manager for day-to-day issues. “Friction” could be due to the engineer’s lack of skills in customer service and the effort required to learn these vs. the effort required in maintaining the status quo. Intervention could be to provide ongoing coaching for the engineer, allowing engineers to shadow to observe how others do a good job in customer interactions, providing continuous feedback – positive as well as constructive that enables growth for the engineer and reduces the “friction”.

    Typical engineering managers do not provide such support. They simply reiterate the need for the engineer to be more customer-centric without coaching them on how to change. They may simply give the engineer a bad performance review or, at most, provide a one-time training or workshop. Such short-term training is highly ineffective in bringing about long-term behavioral change since it doesn’t eliminate the underlying friction.

    Providing Fuel

    Fuel for a rocket is similar to the motivation for an individual. As an engineering manager and leader we need to understand what drives each unique individual. There is no one size fits all solution. Dan’s TED talk mentions an effort to inspire villagers in Kenya to save a certain amount every week. The study tried various methods including weekly reminders, providing some financial incentive by matching a small percent of the villagers savings, loss aversion, emotional messages from kids, and a symbolic scratching of a coin every week that they saved money. The goal was to determine which approach might result in achieving the highest savings. They found that savings were almost double compared to other motivational methods when villagers had to scratch a mark on a coin every week to indicate that they met their savings goal. The coin was displayed in a prominent location in the hut. A visual indicator of an otherwise invisible task –savings– helped the family understand why it was important and stay on track.

    As Engineering Management professionals providing fuel or motivation is a very significant and yet difficult task. We don’t always know what may work in any given situation and with any given person. This is where our skill as an engineering management leader comes into play.

    In the example of the engineer above, what are some things that a manager could do to motivate the engineer? Would love to hear your thoughts. Do email me.

    Career Summary

    Atul Kalia, atul@sngroupllc.com, is passionate about enabling success for individuals, teams and organizations. This success manifests itself as professional growth for individuals, successful delivery of complex programs by high performance teams and sustainable profitability for organizations. Atul is a firm believer in the “Art of the Possible” and uses a generative approach. Using self-awareness as the foundation, Atul enables results for clients by sharing insights from his corporate and consulting career of 25+ years.

    Atul is the Founder of SN Group LLC, a consulting firm delivering success for clients through coaching for engineering and program management professionals, leadership development workshops and program management consulting. Atul has experience in Automotive, Commercial Trucking, Off-Highway, Industrial, Non-profits, Telecom, Digital Printing and Manufacturing industry in North America, Europe and Asia. He works with, as well as coaches engineering professionals from C level executives to managers.

    Prior to SN Group, Atul worked as the Director of Engineering for a Manufacturing firm. In this role his focus was new product development, engineering and program management. He led Global teams that successfully launched over 20 complex and innovative programs.

    Education, Certifications, Memberships, Publications

    • MS Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park
    • MBA University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
    • Lead Coach SAE Engineering Management Academy
    • Adjunct Professor, College of Management, Lawrence Tech University
  • 22 Nov 2020 8:51 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    by Larry Mallak, PhD, CPEM, FASEM

    Why would college seniors in Engineering Management visit an art museum? If we’re serious about the art and science of engineering management, then let’s go experience some art. Since 2007, I’ve been taking my undergraduate Industrial Systems Management students to the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Institute of Arts (KIA) for a field trip. My first call to KIA with this request was met with bewilderment, but then they realized I was serious. Of course, the learning objectives are key to a successful visit.

    With many students mired in problem sets and quantitative analyses, we need to prepare them to view the world more systemically. My objectives are twofold: 1) to help the student gain a deeper (or an initial) experience with art and science and 2) to understand how artists communicate meaning. We engineering managers should not be addicted to PowerPoint’s bullet charts if we’re going to be successful project managers and leaders.

    As with most things, this year was different, so I called over the summer and asked if the museum would do a virtual tour for my class. I had done this tour for over a decade and had no intention of skipping it. Museum staff were game to this idea and we were the first virtual tour. Our docent, Dr. Frank Wolf, is an emeritus faculty member of our department at Western Michigan University. He taught operations research and engineering economy. Now, he teaches us how to find systems and engineering concepts in KIA artworks.

    Connecting via Zoom, my students, Dr. Wolf, KIA director Jessica Sundstrom, and myself toured an exhibit titled “Cultural Encounters,” a collection of artworks from Asian immigrants to the Americas (which you’ll recall is North America excluding for the U.S. and Canada). These works embodied several types of processes—metal sculpture, master printmaking, watercolors, videos, and fiber art.


    Rainforest XI: The Sharp Edge of Seasons. 2013.
    Bernadette Indira Persaud. Acrylic on canvas. 22”x14"

    For example, the art shown below is Indo-Caribbean from an artist who was born in Guyana. This is Rainforest XI by Bernadette Persaud. Her grandparents were laborers on a sugar plantation. The process of producing this painting is based on neo-Impressionist techniques to produce color and perspective. Colonialist pursuit of profits from clearing land to raise sugarcane removes land from the rainforest—a political, scientific, and environmental conflict. Although the artist’s depiction is a beautiful rainforest scene, there was much pain and sacrifice by her ancestors to reach this point. The systems view of this single art work contains many elements related to engineering management.

    Over the years, we have seen many unique art works—installations depicting oil-ruined land, glassworks by Chihuly, Chinese prints, enchanting videos, and traditional paintings of people and landscapes. Each year, the class sees something different, but the lesson is the same—engineering managers and artists rely on color, perspective, processes, and materials to produce an output for an end user. We can learn a lot from artists—even when it’s virtual.

    About the Author

    Dr. Larry Mallak is an industrial engineer whose work on corporate ethnography is bringing new tools to balance the art and science of new product development. He’s a Professor of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering & Engineering Management at Western Michigan University. Prior to his university appointment, he worked in Charlotte, North Carolina, for Premier Healthcare and he has worked as a science reporter for National Public Radio. His work has been featured in numerous outlets, including TEDx, Engineering Management Journal, WORK, and Industrial Management. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech, with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois. Dr. Mallak is a Fellow of ASEM.

  • 20 Nov 2020 4:18 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    Pandemic, Inc. by Patrick Schwerdtfeger.  Authority Publishing:  Gold River, CA  (2020).  168 +x pages .  US$19.99 (paperback).  

    For all of us, 2020 has been a year of uncertainty and confusion.  “Normal “ activities of going to work or school, seeing family, and even shopping have been aborted.  Who could have predicted these life-altering changes? 

    It turns out that futurists, like Patrick Schwerdtfeger, spend time analyzing trends and predicting business activities for tomorrow.  Patrick is a sought-after keynote speaker and author.  During the corona-panic lockdown, he looked toward the most impactful changes that he believes have staying power.  This is the thrust of “Pandemic, Inc.

    Unlike much of the media in 2020, Patrick offers a message of opportunity for business owners and managers.  “...there are some very real and tangible things that businesses can do to (1) survive, (2) rebuild, and (3) thrive after the crisis is over...” (pg. 3, author’s emphasis).  Each of the eight primary chapters describes trends and offers business advice to take advantage of future trends.

    Trend #1: Self-Sufficiency 

    Already a trend before corona-panic, groups of people were moving “off the grid”.  Patrick recognizes this trend and its impact on engineers and engineering managers.  Solar panels will continue to grow as people strive for independent living.  Technology will continue to advance driving down manufacturing and installation costs.  

    Trend #2: Analytics

    The trend toward “Big Data” was already in place long before corona-panic.  The pandemic has simply accelerated the vast accumulation, storage, and processing of more and more data.  Engineering managers and business owners will use and optimize data to target marketing, while governments will use increased data to manage healthcare.  We must be cautious, however, of the misuse of data and understand the complexity of models before we accept their outcomes and predictions.

    Trend #3: Liquidity

    In business terms, cash is the most liquid asset you own.  You can trade cash for anything.  Debt in our personal lives, in business, and especially in governments is a threat to long-term survival.  What happened to your day-to-day living when the stock market crashed in March?  Holding sufficient cash resources to keep things running will be an important lesson for all of us going forward. 

    Trend #4: Virtualization 

    Most of us are now spending a significant amount of time on Zoom or FaceTime.  We have social networks, business meetings, and family time in front of a screen.  Engineering managers must consider how to apply technologies, like virtual reality (VR), to trouble-shooting operations.  Educators must adopt engaging studies via virtual platforms.  How have you adapted to a virtual world and what can you change to make a hybrid approach (virtual and in-the-office) successful going forward? 

    Trend #5: Automation

    Again, automation was already trending upward before the corona-panic.  However, “Pandemic, Inc.” emphasizes an acceleration of automation as cash-strapped businesses transition routine tasks to machines.  “Germaphobes” (pg. 80-81) will continue to drive fears of contact with people we know and especially of strangers.  Patrick predicts reemergence of shared ride service and autonomous vehicles despite a growth in the number of “germaphobes”.  

    Trend #6: Governments 

    Big government with more intrusion into previously private activities is an enduring trend predicted in “Pandemic, Inc.”  “The pandemic is turning into a massive power-grab by governments and globalists” (pg. 106).  Bitcoin and blockchain are likely outgrowths of this trend.  Serving government agencies and customers will become a bigger aspect of most businesses in the future.  

    Trend #7: Exponential Thinking 

    Patrick notes that technology has growth at accelerating rates - exponential versus linear.  From an engineering management perspective, we are seeing enhanced performance at decreased costs for many goods.  Harkening back to Trend #3 (Liquidity), engineering managers should consider how to invest in these rapidly accelerating technologies while still preserving cash.  

    Trend #8: Decentralization 

    In “Pandemic, Inc.”, Patrick notes that decentralization encompasses most of the other trends (pg. 123).  Just like me, when the author was a child, we had just one local newspaper and a handful of television channels.  Today, we are bombarded with hundreds of channels in social media and ways to consume “the news”.  Unfortunately, we seek out “echo chambers“ (pg. 124) more than truth or full data sets.  This trend allows us to be more connected with those like us but less connected to anyone with a different opinion.  Decentralization thus impacts business decisions, including market structures in hiring of new employees.  

    Conclusion

    Pandemic, Inc.” is an interesting read.  Patrick Schwerdtfeger has been analyzing and speaking on future trends for years.  Will all these trends come to fruition?  Certainly not.  But as engineers and engineering managers, we must be aware of both technological and social trends that impact how we design operations and products.  I recommend “Pandemic, Inc.” for a couple of reasons.  First, it is easy and quick to read.  It summarizes challenges to the global economy and offers a glimpse into a possible future.  Second, whether or not you agree with Patrick's view of future trends, engineers and engineering managers must be aware of alternate perspectives that influence our customers and manufacturing processes.  

    What do you think is the most significant trend to arise from the corona-panic? 

    About the Author

    Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, PE (State of Louisiana), PMP®, CPEM, NPDP is a writer, speaker, and facilitator. Teresa founded Global NP Solutions to help organizations learn, adopt, transform, and sustain innovation. She frequently presents keynote presentation on innovation and design thinking.

    Teresa is the co-editor of the PDMA Body of Knowledge 2nd edition and is the author of a popular book on innovation, The Innovation ANSWER Book.

    Prior to founding Global NP Solutions, Teresa worked in R&D, process technology, innovation at ExxonMobil Chemical Company. She has degrees in Chemical Engineering and an MBA. She is a Certified Professional Engineering Manager. You can reach Teresa at info@globalnpsolutions.com.

  • 09 Nov 2020 9:11 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    by Alexis Devenin, PMP


    Sometimes businesses run in continuous and stable scenarios and this situation can be likened to a fisherman who always fishes in the same spot from the edge of a river. Other times businesses are confronted with rapid and dramatic changes. This other situation is similar to a fisherman who floats down the river, fishing from the boat.

    There are times when businesses run smoothly, and there are external market variables that fluctuate, but there are only small or regular fluctuations around an average situation. Production and business are planned and executed according to these stationary scenarios. The situation is similar to a fisherman that always goes fishing in the same spot in a river. He knows where the trout lies, the best hour in the day, and the best time in a season. He knows where, how, and when to cast, what line, and what fly patterns to use. Of course, there are good days and bad days, but on average, his method works. Unexpectedly, some days the water is warmer or muddy, and other days the water is too cold. In these instances, the tactics that he usually uses don't pay so well, but the fisher knows some tricks to use in these circumstances. This fisher can embark on his journey with a small set of fly patterns and with a specific line and rod because he knows what works there. In business, the same happens in times where there are no rapid changes.

    On the contrary, sometimes in business, there are times with rapid and unpredicted changes. Phenomena such as digital transformation, Industry 4.0, the AI revolution, pandemic occurrence, etc. No company is completely prepared for these changes. Returning to the fisherman, the situation is closer to someone who is floating the river in a boat and is confronted with different fishing situations. During his journey, riffles, runs and pools are encountered several times. Each scenario demands different fishing strategies. The fisher must carry with him more than one line, at least a floating line and a sinking line, probably more than one rod, and a larger set of fly patterns. In the same ways, companies exposed to rapid changes must continuously check their strategy and operations. They must have a larger set of skills to draw upon. That is, they must have different people with different education, culture, and ways to see the world. The larger the diversity of the employee profiles, the more resilient and adaptive the organization will be.

    Some companies are very uniform in their team composition. They are composed of people of the same formation and even the same school. That could be an optimal situation for a specific scenario, like the fisherman who fishes in the same spot every time. However, it is not an optimal situation for rapid changes in the environment, like the situation of the fisher who is floating the river. Clearly, with digital transformation and eruption of the pandemic, today's business scenario is close to the situation of the fisher floating down the river. Organizations must continuously review their processes and reinforce their team skills set in order to “match the hatch”.

    About the Author

    Alexis Devenin is engineer, MBA & PMP. He has a Professional Certificate in Foundations for Data Science from Stanford. He is interested in the analysis of industrial systems and organizations from a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, that includes tools from disciplines like data science, systems engineering and social sciences. www.linkedin.com/in/alexisdevenin

  • 06 Nov 2020 1:38 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    UAH Professional Development Solutions, in partnership with the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM®), is proud to announce the ASEM® Certification: CAEM®/CPEM® Exam Prep.  This exam prep, written and presented by prominent members of ASEM®, prepares the participant to sit for either the Certified Associate in Engineering Management (CAEM®) or the Certified Professional in Engineering Management (CPEM®) exams.  These exams are designed for professionals seeking to establish their credentials or validate their skills and experience with a professional certification.

    Over the course of two months, participants will appreciate the interactive online training facilitated by ASEM® members, who are also subject-matter-experts and are there to assist participants with their learning experience.  The course offers lectures and mock test questions developed by ASEM® and are reflective of the 11 domains in the Engineering Management Body of Knowledge or EMBOK. 

    The EMBOK Guide includes competency areas that were derived from role delineation studies.  Professionals, managers, and executives in the field of engineering should strive to acquire experience in these competency areas.

    The 11 domains consist of the following:

    1. Introduction to Engineering Management
    2. Leadership and Organizational Development
    3. Strategic Planning and Management
    4. Financial Resource Management
    5. Project Management
    6. Quality Management Systems
    7. Operations and Supply Chain Management
    8. Management of Technology
    9. Systems Engineering
    10. Legal Issues in Engineering Management
    11. Engineering Ethics

    Participants can sign up anytime of the year and will receive a free membership to ASEM®, a free voucher to take the exam of their choice, and digital copies of all the materials, including the EMBOK.  To register, please visit the website at CPS.uah.edu/ASEM.

    UAH Professional Development Solutions works continuously to offer many opportunities for job growth and training in a variety of formats including classroom, online on-demand, live-virtual, and customized.  For more information about the ASEM® Exam Prep or any other courses, contact Professional Development Solutions at 256.824.4033 or PDSolutions@uah.edu.

  • 05 Oct 2020 8:45 PM | Annmarie Uliano (Administrator)

    Continuing our series on Women in Engineering Management (#WiEM) featuring a fireside chat with ASEM's most recent Past President, truly a leader in engineering management. Learn more about Dr. Suzanna 'Suzie' Long, PhD, CPEM, F.ASEM, F.IISE and hear her views on the future for women in EM.

    "Let the voice in your head be a positive one, one that reminds you of why you are where you are, how hard you worked, and why you need to be there. The voice in your head should always be a kind one."

    Q1: What led you to the field of engineering management?

    My department is Engineering Management and Systems Engineering (EMSE). It was none of those things that led me to the department. My undergraduate degrees are in Physics & History, and my first graduate degree was in history. I went to work for the National Archives and Records Administration. Because of Physics, I was assigned to work on scientific records because I had a unique background to be able to characterize what is uniquely valuable for the good of the Nation. Then I started falling more and more into how you effectively manage technology. I started looking for PhD programs, and I was drawn to EMSE because it had a strong program in looking at the concept of an engineering system or sociotechnical system. My PhD is in EM with a systems flavor and so one of the first professional societies that i joined as a graduate student was ASEM because I was so enchanted in this concept of the management of systems and the management of technology. So with that, whereas most coming into ASEM through a student membership, I joined as a professional member from the get-go.

    Q2: Why do you think its essential to have have women in engineering, and specifically engineering management?

    I think a lot about this, even on my own campus, I am currently the only female chair. One of the things that I feel very strongly about is that diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of opinion is essential. If you are not considering all dimensions of a problem, your solution is simply not robust. Not just women need to be actively involved in EM, but across all diverse dimensions, we need that to have the engineering solutions we need to move the profession forward. It’s been a privilege to be a women leader in the field of Engineering Management. It’s still far too rare.

    You didn’t ask about challenges but it becomes a disheartening thing when you know because there is a deeper voice, capable of being louder that sometimes you’ll be shut down or talked over. Or more importantly they will pick up your idea and it’s attributed to them and not you. I think we still have a lot of growing to do, and until we get past that our default leaders look a certain way, we have made no progress.

    Q3: Is there anything you think educators can do to make Engineering more attractive to women?

    Part of it requires that we actually think about education from a more inclusive respective. NSF is currently using a term called convergence, which is starting to be designed. [. . .] What it means to me is that we are trying to work towards a framework where diversity of thought is truly present in our systems designs and in our engineering management approach in everything from work to life. If you think of things as a sociotechnical system, and most engineering managers are looking at that, then to be perfectly honest we spend way too much time on the technical, and not enough time on the integration of the human into the management system.

    The way you look at things, whenever you got a human, there are dimensions and emerging conditions that cannot be clinically designed so that’s why you can’t have an artificial intelligence approach constantly. There’s got to be compassion and cultural awareness as part of the system.

    Q4: What are some of your memories from ASEM or some of your proudest accomplishments?

    I’m going to back to my early days on the faculty here at Missouri S&T about 12 years ago. In my second year as a faculty member, we hosted the ASEM conference in Springfield, MO. I remember being so proud of the team I was able to put together to attend that conference, both that conference and the next one. We had 9 different graduate students presenting research in EM. When I started thinking about contributions and ways to give back, it occurred to me as I was sitting in one of their sessions, 'Wow! this is the future of our society, you’re here on the ground floor getting to mentor and benefit from their perspective and I was so proud of that.'


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

Sponsors and Corporate Members (Click Logo to Visit Sponsor Site)







ASEM World Headquarters     *     200 Sparkman Drive, Suite 2     *     Huntsville, Alabama 35805

email: asem-hq@asem.org     *     phone: +1-256-503-8482 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software