Friday, November 30, 2012

An Engineering Management Reading List-Starter Kit

Ross Snyder, an engineering management student here at WMU, recently asked about a reading list for engineering management students. I put together this quick list and will modify over time.

Stars indicate a must-read.

*Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Long, but well-written and insightful.

*Stephen Johnson--Where Good Ideas Come From. Uses Darwin and others to construct an engaging set of principles that seem to explain the source of innovative ideas and debunk popular myths (such as the Eureka! moment).

StrengthsFinder 2.0--used by Stryker and other Fortune 500 firms to measure employee engagement. Book price includes online test, so don't buy a used one.

*Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. NYT bestselling author tackles what explain outlier behavior in business--Gates, Jobs, and hockey. This is a must-read.

*The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. His first big release. Explains how change is not linear and uses an epidemiological model to support his argument. Also a must-read.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

Boring Meetings Suck by Jon Petz.

*Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

*Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

Also, monitor the NYT Business bestseller list: http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/hardcover-business-books/list.html and catch book reviews at businessweek.com.

This should get you through the next few months.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Top 3 Ideas for Managing This Week

Here at the Management Minute, I strive to share relevant items to stimulate the use of more creative thought and practice for engineering managers and managers of other enterprises, as well. So, let's see what we have for the top ideas this week:

1. Review how Alan Mulally addressed Ford's culture in the impressive turnaround of that firm. He tells an audience of Stanford students about how a 12-second interchange moved from an historical firing of a manager to a comprehensive effort to solve the technical issue. Watch here. Watch until 33:31, but you'll be compelled to listen longer to hear his story about driving into the Ford garage on his first day of work.

2. Absorb what having nearly a hundred billion dollars of cash on hand means. Read this WSJ report on Apple's blowout quarter--the second such report since Steve Jobs' passing. Here, in a different context, a non-legendary leader takes over and produces a record-setting performance. The Apple culture is stronger than its founder.

3. Dive into the business models of the top S&P performers of the past decade. Learn that world dominance is fleeting, but there are strategies to make your business a survivor. Read at ChangeThis.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Demo of Clinic Cost-Benefit Tool at HCD.11

If you're headed to Nashville to HCD.11, check out the demo of my web-based cost-benefit tool for clinic design. (Also at: HCD.11 guide). It's on Monday from 11:30 to 12:30 in Bayou E. This is a free tool for registered members of the Center for Health Design's web site.

Here are the details:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Boring Meetings Suck

That is the title of Jon Petz' book on getting more out of meetings and getting out of more meetings. If there's one thing we engineering managers can do, it's to educate ourselves and others to hold better (and fewer) meetings. Pay particular to his "Agenda Item 3," which is his way of titling the book chapters. Agenda 3 has details on how to hold different types of meetings. Here are the bullet points from a couple slides I built on Agenda 3:

Boring Meetings Suck
Agenda 3: New Meeting Styles
“Open House”: people share ideas on their own time or Facebook fan page.
“Pass the Buck”: Move facilitator role among team members
“Stand-it-up”: for meetings of < 15 min
“Triple-T”: text, Twitter, technology

Speed Meetings
“Two ‘n out”: Like ESPN “Pardon the Interruption.” Limit each person to 2 minutes.
“Step It Up”: Specify how many flights of stairs to make your point. Other person makes points on the way down.
“I Gotta Use It”: Everyone drinks a tall glass of water at beginning of meeting. It’s over when someone needs a break.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Building Safety Net Clinics--Using Evidence-Based Design: New Tool

If you work in healthcare, you're aware of the clear problems of serving the uninsured and underinsured populations. Safety net (or community) clinics help meet the needs of those patients. The design of these clinics is getting new attention thanks to the efforts of the Center for Health Design and the California HealthCare Foundation. I've been working with CHD and CHCF over the past year to design an online tool to provide information and analysis to safety net clinic designers to see the value of evidence-based design in their facilities.

Based on the findings and recommendations of CHD's 2008 report on ambulatory care clinics, I, along with web developer Wasif Butt of Western Michigan University, built an online tool to provide detailed cost-benefit results on the use of green design, the configuration of patient care areas, waiting areas, and exterior lighting. The direct financial benefits of green design alone may pay for many other design features in these facilities.

Want to try it out? Go to CHD's website at this link. Select MySNC from the top menu and check it out. You'll need to register with CHD to use the system, but this is free. Let me know what you think.

S&P Survival--A Recessionary Update

If you follow Tom Peters, you're probably familiar with his slide on the survival rates of S&P companies and Fortune 100 companies (work done by Foster and Kaplan). The problem I have when I use this slide is that the data are 25 years old (time periods ending in 1987). So, I updated the research using data from S&P companies during the "lost decade" of 1999-2009. What I found was intriguing and resulted in some clear lessons for organizations seeking to survive recessions. Read my work at changethis.com--it's a published article in the August 2011 online edition. The bottom line is that success in a recessionary time is a function of forward-looking management, being in the right markets, and making some critical decisions based on future scenarios, not extrapolating from past performance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What can Green do for you?

UPS had a successful campaign a few years ago with the tagline, "What can Brown do for you?" As it turned out, Brown can do quite a bit, including deliver packages to your car when you're stranded because of a hurricane or other disaster. But what can Green do for you?

We are often confronted by "the green premium" for everything from cars (Toyota's Prius) to the cost-effectiveness of wind energy on a small scale (financial payback is on the order of 17 years). Of course, the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits makes this cost-benefit analysis a lot more favorable.

In a current project for the California Health Care Foundation and the Center for Health Design, I'm building a cost-benefit tool that shows the costs and benefits of green, among other design features when building community health clinics. The economics apply to most types of buildings, as well.

Looking at healthcare facilities, those that pursue LEED-level green design have found themselves with very good financial benefits. In fact, those benefits generally outweigh the first costs of green--the green premium. Green-designed facilities average 30% lower energy costs because of more efficient use of energy (e.g., LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC systems). Better use of water resources--both inside and outside the facility--also produces net. financial benefits.

Perhaps the most intriguing benefit of green design are the productivity benefits. Employees in these green buildings use fewer sick days, stay with the organization longer, have lower absenteeism, and are easier to recruit to work in the organization. Experts tag this productivity increase at 0.5-1.5%, which can add up to nearly $1 million annually for a 30,000 square foot clinic.

So, you may not be able to justify the $3,000-$5,000 green premium for your ride, but it's quite a bit easier to justify for your green-designed building.