The Art of Engineering Management
HECTOR R. SKIFTER, Fellow, IRE
Summary - Challenged by larger and more complex tasks, the
engineering manager must place greater emphasis on the motivation
and intellectual development of his people if he is to obtain the
maximum creative effort from individual engineers.
Management of the environment rather than the individual is
suggested as the key to motivation-and to successful engineering
management. Problems facing us in electronics will be easier to
solve if managers build an environment characterized by sound or-
ganization, stimulating goals, economic rewards and, most impor-
tant of all, freedom of initiative for the individual with maximum
emphasis on self-direction and self-control.
THE NEED FOR excellence in engineering management has never been more urgent than it is today. With the exponential growth of science during the past few decades has come a vast change in the role and responsibility of those who manage techni- cal personnel.
Management was not so difficult a generation ago when small groups of engineers could design and build most of our equipment. But today, in electronics, we are faced with tasks of unprecedented magnitude and complexity. The proposed lunar program, involving manned exploration of the moon before the end of the decade, will exceed in complexity and scope any of our previous technological enterprises. The skills of tens of thousands of engineers in government and industry will be required to achieve this step into space.
Today's manager faces vastly more difficult administrative and technical problems than his predecessor. He must not only coordinate the activities of large groups of engineers but also direct the application of highly advanced technology. All this requires new management techniques and skills, and it has lent urgency to improvement in the art of engineering management. In fact, there are many today who believe that our technology has outstripped our management - that the biggest job we face is in learning how to motivate and lead effectively. Today's manager has serious problems. One of these is the shortage of skilled technical manpower. The Engineering Manpower Commission has estimated that the present critical shortage of engineers in the United States will become even worse. By 1965 it is forecast that we will have only 32,000 new engineering graduates each year, in contrast to an average annual demand for more than double this figure. It will be more difficult than ever to build technically superior engineering
groups. Even the oft-used, and usually unsuccessful, approach of substituting "bodies for talent" will offer no solution, because the numbers simply will not be available.
Another problem is that of preventing the technical obsolescence of the engineering staff. In these days of scientific breakthrough and fast-moving, proliferating technology, an intensive and continuing effort is required by engineers at all levels, including the manager,
to keep technically up to date. Also, the manager is faced with balancing group needs against individual needs. On large, complex projects it is essential to maintain tight over-all direction and control in order to live within contract commitments. Yet, experience has shown that creative engineering activity to the responsibilities of the engineering manager and particularly to those functions which require emphasis at this time. To a large degree, the progress of our society will depend upon the skill with which we manage our scientific and technical resources.
This discussion will deal with engineering management in both large and small organizations. The ideas presented are undoubtedly influenced by the problems posed by extensive government-sponsored research and development programs. The type of engineering organization we discuss is engaged neither in pure research nor in routine design. It is, rather, typical of the groups involved today in the application of advanced technology to military and industrial problems. Its stock in trade is not only technical competence but imaginative leadership.
With this background, I would like to review the evolution of engineering management, the responsibilities of the manager, some approaches for the motivation and intellectual development of technical personnel, and some key problems of the future.
EVOLUTION OF ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT
Engineering management, as we know it today, is relatively new. About the turn of the century several pioneers in management, such as Taylor, Gilbreth, and Gantt, made a profound contribution to modern production methods. In France, Fayol pointed the way to new techniques in administration.
During these early years, management techniques were developed and improved primarily in manufacturing organizations. A body of experience and knowledge grew up during this period which made possible the establishment of large business enterprises. Management did not evolve into a science measured by the standards of modern technology, but it did become a well-established discipline. The problems of applying these production management principles to engineering management were first experienced by the managers of the small specialized engineering groups which grew up during World War I and characterized the early years of the radio and electrical industry.
World War 11 brought explosive growth to the research and development activity in electronics, nuclear physics, and allied fields. Organizations ranged in size from a single scientist and his staff to large groups such as Radiation Laboratory at M.I.T., Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard, and Airborne Instruments Laboratory at Columbia, operating under the Office of Scientific Research & Development. The Manhattan Project, of course, was the largest of them all. During the same period a number of commercial firms, such as American Telephone & Telegraph, General Electric, and Radio Corporation of America, organized large engineering staffs. These groups were built with a minimum of formal organization. Work was organized around project engineers and department heads reporting to a director.
Service and planning functions were accomplished on an ad hoc basis with a minimum of scheduling and paper work. Efficiency often suffered, because it was necessary to employ all available manpower, and many engineers were added without training or supervision.
Still, these groups had able people and a variety of talent. No limits were placed upon the creative engineer, who maintained close liaison with the user. Wartime pressures provided a motivating external environment that made these research groups highly effective, but this type of informal organization and management was not adequate for the long pull in peacetime. To obtain consistent results from an engineering group, it is essential to have planned objectives, sound organization, and carefully defined work assignments.
Several factors tended to bring about improvement in engineering management practices in the early postwar years. A number of groups "spun off" from the wartime research laboratories to form independent organizations. Many new companies were formed, and the larger commercial firms expanded their activities in defense electronics. As new enterprises proliferated and old ones expanded in a peacetime environment, management was forced to re-evaluate organization and engineering procedures. Managers found themselves answerable to employees, stockholders, and boards of directors. At the same time, their customers placed greater emphasis upon reliable systems and equipment, on schedule delivery, and effective cost control.
Engineering management matured considerably during the first postwar decade. Engineers became more familiar with techniques that had been evolved over the years in industrial management. They participated in trade association seminars and management meetings. Most important, they learned on the firing line by successfully handling tasks of increased complexity. During the period after the Korean War, important new lessons were learned. Many companies that had concentrated on research and development established production operations and experienced the problems of moving systems and equipment from research and development into production. In recent years the emphasis in defense electronics has been on research and development. We have concentrated on the development and fabrication of a limited number of complex systems and equipment. We have had to anticipate the requirements of, and work with, newly created procurement organizations responsible for weapon systems. Within our companies we have had to create nearly autonomous project task forces; new organizations to handle schedule and cost control, reliability, and quality control; new groups to handle liaison between subcontractors and team members; new lines of communication within the organization and to the customer. To those of us who have participated in these electronic systems and space programs, this latter period has offered perhaps the greatest challenge to the imagination and capability of out engineering managers.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ENGINEERING MANAGER
Today we are faced with a dilemma. On the one hand we must turn out vastly more complex systems and equipment within rigid cost and time schedules; this implies much greater "front office" direction and control. On the other hand, we must maintain the most favorable possible environment for creative engineering effort; this implies the maximum freedom of initiative for the individual engineer. What does this mean to the engineering manager? His basic responsibilities remain the same. He is still charged with establishing goals, organizing, motivating and communicating, measuring performance, and developing the personnel in his organization. But he must shift emphasis to the most important elements of his job to meet changing conditions.
Who is this engineering manager? The president of the company? In many cases, yes. The working engineer? Certainly yes! The management principles, tools, and objectives outlined here apply throughout the organizational ladder. As Peter Drucker has so well stated, we are concerned with the management of managers. Each echelon of the management chain has a responsibility for the application of the appropriate techniques to the direction of the managers reporting to it. The objective can well be a team approach by all levels in the most effective management of the resources and capabilities of the organization towards clearly stated goals.
Obviously the engineering manager must be concerned with goals. They must be broad objectives which excite the imagination and give people something they want to work for, something they don't yet know how to do, something they can be proud of when they achieve it.
The engineering manager must also give careful thought to organization structure. As our engineering groups grow, it becomes increasingly difficult for the manager to pay detailed attention to the individual engineer's work accomplishments. The engineering activity must be subdivided into small enough groups for the individual engineer to achieve recognition and identity. Groups and section leaders must be selected who combine project engineering experience with leadership ability. And supporting engineering services must be provided to relieve the technical work force of administrative and housekeeping details.
Performance evaluation is another of the manager's important responsibilities. In an engineering organization, intelligent measurement of performance requires that the manager demonstrate a personal interest in and technical understanding of the work being performed. The results of such an evaluation obviously are used for administrative purposes for salary administration, promotion, and the transfer of employees.
But, properly applied, performance evaluation
results can provide the recognition which a group or individual deserves
when a goal has been met or, conversely, the stimulant required when results
are less than desired. These functions-goal-setting, organizing, and performance
measurement-are all important. But if today's engineering manager is going
to face up to his really fundamental and most demanding tasks, he must
place increasing emphasis on how he motivates and develops people. Effective
motivation and development of technical personnel are so vital to successful
engineering management, so related to working out a compromise between
rigid management control and complete freedom of initiative, that this
discussion will be devoted largely to these aspects of engineering management.
MOTIVATION OF ENGINEERING PERSONNEL
Managing the environment rather than the individual appears to be the most successful approach to the motivation of engineering personnel. Experience has shown that the creative intellectual effort of the scientist or engineer cannot be programmed. The engineer's intellectual contribution cannot be obtained by giving orders or by the type of close supervision used in manufacturing operations. If the engineering manager places pressure on his people, indicating in detail what they can and cannot do, initiative and creativity are weakened or destroyed. Those who study, management believe that a revolution is taking place in management that is particularly applicable to the engineering organization. A long-standing concept of managerial control has held that it is necessary to impose direction and limitations on the individual in order to get him to perform the work for which he is hired. The trend is away from this toward recognition of the capacity of individuals to exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which they have committed themselves. Management by objective and self-control will inevitably replace management by authority and externally imposed control.
This suggests that the engineering manager must adopt a new approach to establishing goals. He must continue to communicate and interpret the broad objectives of management. But he must give increasing personal attention to aiding, encouraging, and counseling his engineering groups and individual engineers to establish their own performance goals. These include not only time and cost objectives for the typical research, development, or production project but any number of goals that the individual engineering group can work toward in furtherance of the over-all corporate objectives new technical areas that a group will investigate, new proprietary developments that the group will begin, new competence that the group will acquire through self-development or the addition of qualified personnel.
The important thing is that, with the encouragement and assistance of engineering management, these goals are self-determined. And the individual engineer, committed to objectives which he has helped to establish, develops an inner motivation and drive which he can not possibly have if these goals are imposed upon him from above.
Before he can create a favorable environment for engineering work, the engineering manager must understand the values, interests, and expectations of technically trained personnel.
The typical scientist or engineer is keenly interested in exercising full use of his talents and training on the job. And he seeks recognition and the opportunity for development in his professional career. Thus, the engineering manager must keep alert to the nature of work assigned to individual engineers, the challenge involved in particular jobs, and the freedom which engineers have to carry out their responsibilities. The engineering manager must provide for recognition of status both outside the company in the professional world and within the company. He must encourage publication of technical results and participation in the affairs of professional organizations. Within the company, the manager must provide the engineer with rewards and recognition for excellence; he must provide the engineer with the opportunity to advance up the "technical ladder" as well as up the administrative or managerial ladder.
There is growing recognition of the problem of providing opportunity for the talented engineer to advance. Even in a rapidly expanding organization, not everyone can become a vice president or department head. Many very competent engineers do not desire to switch from technical to administrative responsibilities. We need positions of prestige and challenge for these valuable individuals. Staff positions (such as that of consultant) have, in many cases, been filled or created for this purpose. Carefully chosen personnel can be very effective in such positions. If, on the other hand, these posts become a refuge for ineffective or incompetent personnel, great harm can result. Financial incentives are a vital part of the environment which provides motivation. Though salary is not the primary incentive to peak performance, it must be competitive with what the engineer can obtain elsewhere; within the company, salaries must be fairly administered. The temptation to hire at salaries above those of comparable or superior persons already on the payroll must be controlled. The salary structure in the engineering organization must be set up so that the money an individual receives is fair relative to the market, economic conditions, importance of the job, and the individual's contribution. The company must also provide a fringe benefit program consisting of group insurance, medical insurance, and retirement benefits which are competitive and offer adequate protection to the employee.
Beyond this, it is essential to consider programs that provide increments of money, stock, or deferred income to provide incentive for and compensate different increments of risk taking and effort. In the intensely competitive electronics industry, incentive rewards must be provided for technically trained personnel who are making the basic risk-taking decisions that determine the future of the business. These rewards usually take the form of stock options, or, in a closely held enterprise, the opportunity for stock participation. The stock option is usually considered an incentive for future performance, not a reward for past efforts. It gives the valued employee a chance to build capital, to participate in ownership, and to identify personal with corporate goals. Many of us believe that a personal stake in the business is one of the best possible guarantees for extra effort on the part of key technical personnel.
Bonus plans are used to provide incentive reward to middle engineering management not directly involved in risk-taking decisions. The bonus offers a means of recognizing the work of individual performers throughout the organization who have made unusual contributions to over-all results.
Good communication is another essential element in an environment favorable to creative engineering. The establishment of objectives and financial rewards is meaningless unless both vertical and horizontal communication is effective throughout the engineering organization. One of the most difficult problems facing the engineering manager is that of maintaining adequate communication as the organization grows. The typical engineering development group that has doubled or tripled in size over the past few years is no longer a happy little family. Whereas the department head previously knew all members of his staff personally, he now has two or three levels of command interposed between himself and his engineers. He must act through section leaders, group heads, and project engineers. He finds himself faced with the problem of managing managers rather than managing engineers. And he realizes that he must organize, delegate, and communicate in order to accomplish tasks that he previously handled directly with the responsible individual. This problem is acute because highly, trained engineering personnel want a voice in policy - want to understand the total picture of what is going on.
The techniques of communication, and methods for improvement in such channels, are too involved to cover in this discussion. However, it should be emphasized that there is no substitute for informal face-to-face contact between the manager and his people. Meetings must take place often enough and last long enough for the manager to learn and, in turn, demonstrate his knowledge of and interest in the projects which are underway.
Some supervisors develop the facility of building strong personal friendships within their group. While avoiding any semblance of paternalism, improved communication and stability can be developed in a group in which personal friendships and common recreational interests help create mutual respect and understanding.
The engineering manager should be alert to a condition of unstable equilibrium that may develop in any organization. An interesting parallel with a collegiate football team can be pointed out. After a notably successful season, the cream of the crop of new players is attracted, resulting within a year or two in an unbeatable team. Subsequently a perturbation (a crushing defeat or change of coach) starts a decline that is just as spectacular as the earlier rise to fame. This is a thought to chill the heart of the engineering manager: the talented engineering organization is a potential victim of the same instability. The pinnacle of success is a mighty slippery perch. Intellectual challenge and strong motivation help provide the stability so important to the environment in which the engineer works.
Managing the environment by encouraging self-determination of goals and by providing adequate economic incentives and good communication thus appears to be the best way to direct engineering groups involved in tasks of increasing complexity. This does not mean that management shifts responsibility for over-all planning, organization, and direction to lower levels in the organization; this kind of responsibility cannot be delegated. But it does mean obtaining the maximum participation from highly trained technical .personnel in every phase of the operation of an engineering enterprise.
In a period of rapidly advancing technology, such as now exists, technical obsolescence of the individual engineer or of the entire organization, for that matter is a real threat to the growth and effectiveness of the company. Maintaining an environment favorable to intellectual development is one of the engineering manager's most difficult and challenging tasks.
The task is difficult because there are so many intangibles among the factors which stimulate intellectual development on the part of an engineer. We know engineers who have kept up to date through an intense curiosity about their own and other disciplines. And we know others who have fallen behind and are no longer equipped to make technical decisions in their own fields, let alone embark upon new areas. The reasons for this difference are hard to understand. Intellectual capacity and drive certainly account for a good deal; yet, there are other elements. In industry there is growing recognition that we must do more to create an environment favorable to self-development.
Several points of view have been expressed about advanced training for scientific and technical personnel.
Some consider such educational programs part of fringe benefits-something done to attract and hold young engineers and to remain competitive with other companies. Others claim that if a company is fortunate enough to have talented personnel, it has an obligation to society and to itself to encourage their self-development.
I would not argue with these concepts. But I believe there are other urgent reasons for attempting to develop our technical personnel. First is the recognition that technical specialists require scientific training beyond that received in the normal college program. The creative engineer must be able to apply the most advanced techniques to the problems that confront him. His perspective must be broad so that he can work in new fields required by the demands of dynamic technology.
Second is the problem of sheer technical obsolescence faced by engineers who have been out of school for a number of years. Much too large a proportion of our senior personnel have not kept current with fast-moving and complex developments in fields such as space
technology, communications, computers and data processing, materials technology, energy sources, and industrial automation. Many lack the technical base and flexibility to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
The problem of technical obsolescence is related to the responsibility of engineering management to protect the assets of a business. Toward this end, we maintain physical equipment and set up depreciation reserves on plant and machinery. In much the same way, we have the obligation to protect and enhance our investment in people, the most valuable asset in the technically oriented business.
Fortunately, there is growing concern in the electronics industry over this problem. A number of companies have recognized the need to provide advanced training for newly hired engineers. One company has organized a program of graduate study in communications engineering and related sciences, conducted during working hours, which leads to a master's degree at the end of the second year. A number of companies have two- or three-year programs for newly hired engineers which emphasize advanced study in technical fields related to the engineer's future work. Other companies make it possible for newly hired personnel to take advanced work at nearby educational institutions. These are indications that progress is being made on the problem of advanced training for newly hired personnel.
The problem of advanced training for senior engineers appears to be more difficult to solve. Because of demands on the time of these responsible engineers, it is difficult to set aside time for advanced work during working hours; nevertheless, one large company recently established a program under which more than 100 engineers are enrolled each year at colleges and universities for resident work leading to advanced degrees. This company found early in the program that participation had become identified with status, that many participants were more interested in personal advancement than in advanced training. They discovered that a number of men were not adequately prepared in languages and mathematics to embark upon doctoral work and that refresher courses would be essential prior to sending such men for advanced work. With modifications, the program is being continued and expanded.
Despite cost and the impact upon the organization of the temporary loss of key personnel, other companies will no doubt establish programs involving resident college work for senior engineering personnel. Some will move ahead with out-of-hours educational classes, lectures, seminars, and other methods for providing advanced training. However, until such formal steps are taken, the engineering manager has an obligation and an opportunity-to train both newly hired and senior engineers. Within his group, he must create an atmosphere favorable to self development. By example, support, and counsel, he must influence his people toward placing effort upon self-development in areas vital to the individual and the company. He must encourage use of reference material already available within the company; many companies have discovered the desirability of providing extensive library services and facilities for engineering personnel. Beyond this, he must provide opportunities for the cross fertilization of ideas; must permit wide dissemination of information on work in progress in different areas; must provide recognition to those who have taken advanced training, with or without company assistance; and must cultivate a spirit of competitiveness with respect to intellectual achievement.
Steps such as these should at least accelerate self-improvement on the part of engineering personnel and contribute toward greater capability and better utilization of existing scientific and technical talent. There is room for considerable imagination and experimentation in this area.
In the long term, I believe a change of philosophy will be required to accomplish all we need to do. Engineering management must recognize the benefits from educational programs and be willing to underwrite their cost. At the same time, the new generation of engineers must develop a realization that their careers will be divided between work and advanced study and that only through exposure to new disciplines and new technology can they hope to obtain advancement and the full realization of their potential.
KEY PROBLEMS FACING US
Of the many problems that face engineering man today, it appears to me that three deserve particular attention: planning our technical future, staffing and organizing to handle the increasingly complex systems jobs, and reducing the cost of engineering work.
Careful planning as to the technical areas in which an enterprise will concentrate is more essential now than ever before because military and industrial requirements are constantly changing. Emphasis today is on advanced equipment, larger and more complex systems. Even the largest companies cannot keep pace in all areas of technology. Hence, it becomes vital to be selective and to develop outstanding capability in specific technical areas.
The spadework necessary to make sound decisions on corporate technical direction is an important task for engineering management working in cooperation with finance, marketing, production, and other elements of the organization.
Many approaches to providing technical direction have been adopted. Some companies have established a planning organization within the engineering or marketing groups with clearly defined responsibilities for long-range planning. Others have established planning groups at a top corporate staff level whose job it is to initiate and coordinate forward-looking thinking throughout the organization. Several of the large companies have set up "think" groups of highly trained scientists and engineers who are completely separated from the day-to-day operations of the company. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages.
The planning groups within engineering may become too engrossed with technical factors, with the result that the needs of customers receive second priority. Those within marketing may place too great emphasis upon a customer needs and market expectations, not enough emphasis upon technical aspects. Both types of groups, however, can make progress, if they have well-defined responsibilities.
The corporate-level planning staff may be too far removed from current technical and marketing operations to provide sound guidance. This is particularly true of the planning group whose members do not maintain sufficient personal contact with key staff members and potential customers. On the other hand, this type of planning organization enjoys the advantage of an over-all picture of the company's operations. Properly run, it can make a valuable contribution.
The most controversial of the planning mechanisms is the so-called "think" group of highly trained technical personnel, who often are completely separated from the rest of the organization, organizationally and geographically. Such groups may tend to concentrate to such an extent on long-term factors that they lose touch with intermediate-term factors. Some planning organizations of this type have been known to disassociate themselves from realistic corporate objectives. Others have lost sight of their original charter and have turned their efforts from planning to proposal effort and the handling of certain types of government contracts. On the positive side, such a group can be highly creative and look well into the future without being distracted by day-to-day considerations.
What is important is not where the planning function is located within the corporate structure, but that somewhere all the elements of effective planning are performed. This means that the engineering manager, regardless of the level at which he works, must accept planning as one of his crucial responsibilities. He must set up the mechanism for looking ahead regardless of whether the group for which he is responsible is a divi- sion, a department, or a section. He must block out time to participate in, provide liaison with, and feed information to the planning group, which may be cooperating elsewhere in the company. And the manager must create an atmosphere in his group that encourages looking ahead. Staffing and organizing to handle the increasingly complex systems job may turn out to be the most difficult problem of all for the engineering manager. During the past decade we have had the challenge of gearing up for large, complex tasks. But this is only the beginning. In space technology and other areas we will be faced with tasks beyond anything we have accomplished to date.
The trend toward larger, more complex systems has several implications for the engineering manager. Internally it means that all of a company's related capabilities must be brought to bear on proposal effort that may lead to participation in systems work and in the performance of these complex jobs after the proposal has been accepted. No longer can we afford the luxury of individual groups who draw aside from the mainstream of company effort and are not interested in joining the commitment for large tasks. These artificial barriers must be broken down; the specialized groups who see their particular challenge in highly creative engineering and advancing the state of the art must be made part of the total effort that individual companies bring to bear in obtaining and handling systems work.
Furthermore, we must place greater emphasis on joint bidding, which implies closer prime-subcontractor relationships, team efforts, and joint ventures with other companies. No one company, not even the largest contractors, can hope to accumulate the array of talent and resources necessary to handle the very large systems. Industry must take the initiative in evolving effective techniques so that the best qualified organizations in specialized technical areas can pool their capability to handle the very large systems jobs. Companies must join forces earlier and communicate more effectively during the precontractual stage. Once contracts have been awarded for major systems, steps must be taken to improve the working relationships between the companies involved, to improve cost and schedule control, and to speed the integration of subsystems into the over-all system.
Within individual companies, engineering management is faced with the problem of how to organize in order to handle participation, whether as a prime contractor or a subcontractor, in these large tasks. We have learned that supervision of these large projects is vastly different from the engineering work we have accomplished in the past. Program management groups are needed to coordinate and assume responsibility for all aspects of the job-cost, schedule, manpower, material, and other requirements. They subcontract to other elements within the company and establish relationships with team members or subcontractors outside. They visualize the task in its entirety, shift to meet changing technical, schedule, and budget requirements, and focus the collective energies of groups inside and outside the company on the accomplishment of the task.
Engineering management must face up to certain realities with respect to systems work. First, the management of these projects at all levels requires a unique combination of administrative and technical skill. Personnel selected for these positions must be people who are challenged by the rewards of creative management as well as those of creative engineering. Second, the maximum possible degree of permanence must be built into program management personnel assignments. The insecurity which has characterized the lot of engineers on many large systems jobs can be eliminated if the company builds program management groups permanently into the organization structure. This, of course, implies a commitment by the company to make systems work a permanent part of its activity. Beyond this, it means establishing the type of program management or task force type of operation that can be self perpetuating. Such groups must not only keep on top of the work at hand, but must participate in planning and proposal effort that will find new fields to conquer and new applications for techniques, systems, and equipment already developed. When a major task has been completed, key personnel in the group are shifted to the business getting function. Finally, more effective tools must be developed for the direction and control of our systems work. At frequent intervals today we measure progress and arrive at estimates of time, cost, manpower, material, and other requirements needed to complete the task. On major systems this is a difficult and time consuming undertaking. Engineering management must develop new review techniques and make greater use of computers and data processing equipment, to speed and increase the accuracy of such controls. Engineering management needs more accurate and timely information during the progress of the work which can be used to remove bottlenecks, correct mistakes, adjust to changes - in short, to maximize performance on the job.
Reducing the cost of engineering work is another of the significant problems facing engineering management. By and large the electronics industry has done a creditable job of developing and producing complex systems and equipment during the postwar years. But from the controller's standpoint some of our efforts have been extravagant. We hear it said by members of Congress and special committees that defense research and engineering has become the greatest luxury the country has ever known. Our customers among the armed services tell us that greater emphasis must be placed upon financial management and cost control.
We in electronics realize that cost control will be essential if the major government programs ahead are to be carried out within the limits of funds available. It is already apparent that only the able and efficient contractors will survive in the long run. For the engineering manager this means greater emphasis on accurate cost estimating, particularly on cost-plus-fixed-fee development programs. And it will require intensified and continuous effort to live up to our obligation to deliver complex systems within the original estimates of time and cost. In carrying out his functions - planning, organizing, motivating, evaluating performance, and developing people - the engineering manager must be keenly alert to cost factors. He must develop within his organization an awareness of cost and the methods necessary for effective cost control. Still he must recognize that, in evaluating the performance of a research and development group, efficiency is not a simple ratio of output per unit of input. Often a creative engineering approach can substantially reduce the cost of a system or equipment under development. It is the engineering manager's task to encourage this kind of creative approach, to make certain that costs are under control, and to obtain the cooperation of all project personnel in working toward cost reduction. If these steps are accomplished, the engineering manager will have gone a long way toward ensuring the success of the complex and difficult projects that lie ahead.
Technical personnel engaged in programs vital to government and industry must be strongly motivated and working at maximum potential if our society is to progress.
To achieve this result, today's engineering manager must place increasing emphasis on how he motivates and develops people. By effective motivation and intellectual development, the manager can arrive at a sound compromise between too rigid control and a "laissez-faire" approach to engineering management.
Faced with projects of greatly increased complexity, the engineering manager might be tempted to increase top-level direction and control. But we have learned that much more effective leadership is provided by managing the environment rather than by managing the engineer. We must create an environment favorable to creative engineering with all that this implies - good organization and communication, stimulating goals, economic rewards and, most important of all, freedom of initiative for the individual with maximum emphasis on self-control and self-direction.
The difficult problems facing us today - such as reducing costs, planning the technical future, and organizing to handle increasingly complex systems - be - come easier to solve if engineering managers create the kind of environment that encourages participation by technical personnel in every phase of the operation. Such an environment will also stimulate and accelerate intellectual development, which has become essential because of the danger of obsolescence of our knowledge in the midst of rapidly advancing technology. In the long run, I am confident that emphasis on individual creativity, initiative, and self-expression will prove more, effective in producing results than the closely directed and controlled systems of management that have sometimes been used. Engineering organizations that impose direction solely from above will never match the achievement of those who make self-direction and inner motivation driving forces. To create the kind of engineering groups in which free men cooperate and achieve the fullness of personal development is the challenge ahead for engineering management.