Renaissance Engineers

20 07 2010

Rennaisance engineers are rare and stretched

Pity the poor engineer. Time was when he (it was mostly he, then) had a clear job to do: he designed products to do particular things and then proved they worked. Invention might come along occasionally but on the whole the chaps who did that were hidden away in research labs or Advanced Development groups and they were as likely to be physicists by background as to be proper engineers. Engineers were expected to do things and above all to get them right.  Years of training instilled the ethos of: learn, calculate, solve the problem and get the Right Answer (which you could then check at the back of the book). But then every so often we now expect them to cut loose for half an hour and ‘Think outside the box’ or ‘Dream the impossible’. And if they don’t, they are looked down on for not being creative. It’s a lot to expect.

What’s more, now that  Open Innovation is all the rage we seem to expect our engineers to forego the pleasures of actually doing things themselves and ask them to spend their time networking and scouting to find out what other people are doing; and then collaborate with them. It’s not surprising that many engineers feel that Open Innovation is stretching them too far. Or hollowing out their jobs.

Posted by Rick Mitchell

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