CEO GoBLOG # 7 – technician engineers, Tex-saurus

I am an engineer. I am living my life as an engineer, hungry for knowledge, aspire for wisdom, love to innovate, create, love nature, immersed with the … endless good things.

I always like to do a fast one on doctors by saying that if you do something bad the colloquial is to DOCTOR it but if you do something good and constructive use the word engineer.This evidence has been doctored, let us engineer this social transformation are examples.

In my previous life as a University lecturer, it was customary for me to do my first lecture to the first year engineering students on the subject of ” what is an enginneer?”. And year in and year out  my enthusiastic would be engineers would pour out an assortment of opinions and fanciful ideas from one who are good at engines to one who design and build things and even those philosophical holistic engineers of doing good things for mankind.

I would then enlighten them of that the root word of engineers is not engine and that the french spelling for engineer is ingeneur which is rooted to the word ingeniuty. An engineer is one who uses his brain, intellect, to innovate, to create, to build, to conserve, to develop skills, to do many wonderful things. Combine this with the holistic dimension, you have a potent, powerful and satisfying capability.

Central to this definition is the BRAIN, the ingenuity, the intellectual capital.

Fortunately,it is recognized worlwide that in order to do engineering the entry requirement which is supposed to gauge the intellectual capability has been set to a high standard. In many countries such as INDIA entries into the engineering schools are reserved for the best brains. The result you see today. Within a period of twenty years, INDIA becomes a technological powerhouse driven by the prestiguos  Indian Institute of Technologies as the centre of engineering excellence..

I would have qualified as I did. I could brag that I was always  in the top 50 bracket in the national examinations.

There is a downside to this. Many engineers, upon graduation, still feel that they are the smartest and they carry this excess baggage throughout thier career. There are many engineers who look down upon other professions, which are crowded with second graders and third graders. This state of bigheadedness, nullifies the hunger for knowledge, and many carry on working in a blinkered environment of engineering. Reading, a basic avenue for the acqusition of knowledge becomes mundane.

Many engineers, end up being number 2 and worst still the backroom is crowded with engineers. The CEOs positions are supposed to be filled up by the best brains.

The above has been my message to many young recruits. An engineer has a responsibility to train young engineers but my approch is unconventional.  I start of by a ritual of degree burning. The young engineer makes a photocopy of his engineering scroll, and lit it up. The copy off course. It sends a powerful message thatthe young engineer is  now at the starting grid and his degree is useless. He has to compete with accountants, salesman, logisticians, administrators.

The process of de-engineering starts. I expect the young engineers to see beyond engineering. The process of acquiring non engineering knowledge begins while experience and mentorship will sharpen the engineering competencies.

The opposites would be the churning out of many Tex-saurus, the many engineers you see today who are more of being technicians than engineers. These are dinosaurs. A waste of human capital. By the time they realise thier bigheadedness they have lost the race. The arts and social science graduates are now thier bosses and thier CEOs.

It is worthy to take note of this observation by a Chief of Navy who led the transformation of the organization after completing his MBA. The engineers contribute the least in terms of numbers of naval officers with MBAs and other second degrees. Those seaman naval officers wwho used to have high school certificates are the ones with  strings of qualifications.

I am not saying MBAs are essential. I am saying that many engineers are  complacent in nourishing thier greatest asset of thier profession , thier ingenuity.

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