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A84 - Goldense On R&D-Product Development - Predictive Metrics for Products and Programs

Machine Design, Penton Publishing, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
November 7, 2013

You�ve probably noticed that there is a growing interest in measuring functional and technical competencies for scientists, engineers, and designers. This trend is a response to the flattening of organizations that have leaned themselves out. In lean organizations, there are typically fewer hierarchical levels but more practitioners at any given level.

This flatter structure is often described in terms of ratios. Lean organizations typically have management-to-staff ratios of 1:7 to 1:11 or higher. �Managers� in these organizations typically earned that title based on strong technical or functional skills. In nonlean organizations, expert managers could completely oversee the work of direct reports and still have the time and bandwidth to spot and avert errors that would otherwise escape from their departments.

In lean organizations, complete oversight is not always a realistic expectation. Hence, lean organizations need a way to put equivalent quality checks in place using a different method. Today, the goal is to ensure practitioners have the best possible chance of avoiding or catching errors themselves.

Globalization also contributed. It changed the basis of competition and resulted in many western companies emphasizing innovation. Being innovative implies that a certain level of expertise is necessary to be better than one�s competitors. Together, lean and global-innovative practices began to alter what management had to measure.

Today, and in the future, product developers can expect an increased focus on their skill sets when they apply for jobs and for the duration of their employment.

One�s reaction to this growing area of measurement somewhat depends on age. Seasoned employees are often negative about it because they began careers when this type of assessment was not politically correct. To the seasoned, it seems as if something more is being required for the same money. Folks who have more recently entered the workforce have less consternation as �this is how it always has been.�

Regardless of how long you�ve been in the engineering and design workforce, be positive. Your employer is more concerned about you than ever before.

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