For several years I’ve been volunteering as an alumni interviewer for my alma mater. It’s enjoyable to spend a bit of time interacting with a younger generation and exploring their interests; my optimism is buoyed by their potential.Read More
Category: Career Advice
“Diversity of thought” is the “all lives matter” of corporate inclusion efforts
For at least the last decade, engineering companies have talked a great deal about “diversity and inclusion”. Inevitably, many people1 have the takeaway that this means “diversity of thought”. This is like telling a Black Lives Matter supporter that “all lives matter”; of course all lives matter, but that’s completely missing the point2. Diversity of thought is important to avoid groupthink and promote innovation; but that’s not the point of diversity and inclusion efforts3.
Diversity and inclusion means making sure that teams are actually diverse, across a range of visible and not-visible features. Why does that matter?Read More
Learn from the mistakes of others
The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience… i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business…General James Mattis
The most successful people in any profession learn from the experiences of others. You can learn from their successes, sure. But don’t focus on doing things exactly they way they did, you’ll stifle your own innovation. Instead, understand their successes, extract relevant lessons, and forge your own path.
More importantly, learn from others’ failures and mistakes.
That’s why I publish a Reading / Listening List. As of the publishing of this article, 5 of the 6 recommendations are about poor engineering and design1. I find these stories fascinating, enlightening, and valuable. By avoiding the pitfalls of the past, we improve the likelihood of success in our own projects.
It’s okay to make mistakes, but strive to at least make original mistakes.
Board man gets paid
For years I’ve been advocating for the effective inclusion of human systems integration (HSI) in the systems engineering (SE) process. I had to address a persistent misunderstanding of what HSI is and how it relates to human factors; while that can be frustrating, I recognized that it wasn’t going to change overnight. Instead, I worked diligently to share my message with anyone who would listen.
Recently, my diligence paid off. I was contacted by a group putting together a proposal for a defense contract. The government’s request outlined their expectations for HSI as part of the systems engineering effort in a way that the proposal team hadn’t seen before. Someone on the team had heard me speak before, knew I had the right expertise they needed, and reached out to request my support.Read More
Thoughts on “A Message to Garcia”
“A Message to Garcia” is a brief essay on the value of initiative and hard work written by Elbert Hubbard in 1898. It is often assigned in leadership courses, particularly in the military. Less often assigned but providing essential context is Col. Andrew Rowan’s first-person account of the mission, “How I Carried the Message to Garcia”.
There are also a number of opinion pieces archived in newspapers and posted on the internet both heralding and decrying the essay. There are a number of interpretations and potential lessons to be extracted from this story. It’s important that developing leaders find the valuable ideas.Read More
Why you should use a writing coach (even if you’re already a good writer)
My first grad school paper was a pretty straightforward assignment with a three-page limit. There was so much to the topic1 that I wrote five pages without even thinking about it. I thought it would be easy to pare down but, try as I might, I could not get it below the limit without removing key points. I was a decent writer and had even worked professionally as a technical author, but I was really struggling.Read More