Monday, November 23, 2009

Forming a Tribe

Yesterday, I posted a link to a TED Talk in which Seth Godin challenged each of the listeners to go forth and form a tribe. Now I have posted about Seth before, and I have listened to his Audiobook and found inspiring in the ways that I found Gladwell. But what is pertinent about the timing of this TED Talk, is the proximity to my final subject of a Master of Engineering Science (Aerospace)... Well actually, let me take you back.

In 1999, I was in my first year of a Bachelor of Engineering in a fully sponsored position by my employer. This employer was wrestling with the results of HR policies that lead to the attrition of it's Mid-level Aerospace Engineers (namely the Design Engineers and Deputy Senior Design Engineers). The HR policies (and notably lack of management) had allowed a level of stagnation in the higher levels thus not providing pathways for promotion.

Significant effort was devoted to creating an Engineering Sustainability Program that improved many aspects of the management of Engineers. These included access to Continuing Professional Development opportunities, close arrangements with Engineers Australia (CPEng et al.), access to a Masters program (to which I referred earlier) and a 'Retention Benefit' (arguably the least effective component).

Despite an incredible economic boom, engineer retention was healthy and life was good. So good in fact, that in 2009 we are once again clogged at the Senior Design Engineer level.

Yesterday, the Deputy Senior Design Engineer level was informed that there would be no promotion for 2011 and that there would be limited opportunities for Design Engineers. This has also resulted in the reduction in the initiatives of the Engineering Sustainability Program (due to retention not being a problem).

It appears to me that we are hell-bent on repeating the cycle through myopia and absence of active management. Is it really that much to expect that the Career Managers could actually impose an 'up or out' approach to maintain a healthy and balanced workforce of the BEST ENGINEERS for our organisation.

So my movement: Anyone who is interested in railing against indoctrinated and dogmatic behaviour; Anyone who can't abide the cost cuts in the name of savings; Anyone who thinks efficiency can be systemic and not incremented through paper cuts; This is our movement

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