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Being Right or Being Effective Can Make or Break Your Engineering Career

The Engineer's Calling
The second law of thermodynamics, or a computer programming language, or Newtonian physics, are not ambiguous. They are not filled with uncertainties. As engineers and scientists there is "correctness" to our work. We are often looking for one answer and one answer only. F=ma and E=IR do not vary if two variables are known; the third is uniquely defined.

This certainty allows us to predict the future. It allows us to place humans on the moon and in space. It allows us to determine the size of beams and cables for a bridge. It allows us to develop circuits, chips, and cell phones. This “problem solving” process is the juice that motivates us through our careers. We are most interested in being right, unambiguous, able to predict with certainty, sometimes with life and death in the balance. Being right is critical!

Managers Have a Different Calling
On the other hand, managers and leaders realize that when it comes to managing and leading people, there are often many ways to achieve a specific outcome. Managers never have “enough” information. They never have the confidence afforded by the equation F=ma, and they constantly function in a fuzzy zone where making the best approximation possible is the norm.

While engineers function with variables that have stability, managers function with variables called “people” and “circumstances.” They are unpredictable, variable, and uncertain. Certainty is the goal of the engineer. Ambiguity is the world of the manager.

For every engineer who is considering management and leadership, the often unknown question is: “How do I move from always looking for the ‘right’ answer to pulling an ‘effective’ answer from a group of many possibly effective answers?” Because what makes you a good engineer won’t necessarily make you a good manager.

Speaker Bio: Steven Cerri

Product Code: ONL-091
Year Published: 2010
Format: Online course

$69.00/ $35.00 Member Price add to cart
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