Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When industry pride and arrogance hinder ...

Occasionally, engineering specialist can be their own worst enemy. I know from first hand experience. We become arrogant in our engineering functional discipline and believe that our specialized field has the corner on cutting edge technology and product development. We discount "outsiders" and their experiences because their work is not as regulated, or not as technical, or too different than our own. For instance, aircraft companies hire only aircraft engineers. Any other engineering experiences are tacitly marginalized and not as valued. The rationalizations are limitless. 

A little over eight years ago, we began a grand experiment. We decided to mix engineering specialties in order to penetrate a large market segment. In reality, we learned each engineering discipline has valuable experiential knowledge that can benefit other industries. We found that knowledge shared across industries will spur game changing creativity for each industry. For example, we found a mix of aerospace experience with automation design developed a "leap frog" improvement for the rail industry. 

To achieve these benefits, we need to create a new environment. Each engineer need to lose their arrogance, respect other's knowledge, and seek to collectively learn from outside experiences. This will result in a blend that is better than the sum of the parts. Reese's developed a great new taste by blending peanut butter and chocolate. Similarly, we need to blend engineering ingredients. It's time to blend the best engineering knowledge from fields like aircraft, automotive, and automation to develop a more complete engineering experience we call "Mobility Engineering".

KTM Solutions has developed a blended engineering environment and it has proven effective for product and manufacturing development. This environment yields practical, innovative, and creative engineering solutions that would not have occurred with the traditional "engineering specialty silos". We are looking for others that want to join us in taking the best of these great experiences to develop a new way of thinking.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vendor, Confidant, Consultant, or Partner

Bob Dylan wrote ...
"You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

It's true. We will all serve somebody. Especially true if your business is a professional service!

Service is really about people (either the server or the served); relationships (genuine or perceived) impact the outcome. As Dylan wrote, "You may be a business man or some high degree thief. They may call you Doctor, or they may call you Chief." Each implies a level of trust and position. Certainly, none of us want to be thought the thief.  Although contracts may be between companies, all services are between people. As we begin new relationships, we must recognize that people have some damage from the past relationships that influence their perceptions. When one party has been burned before, they may assume the other something slightly above thief until proven otherwise. To move beyond this level, one must earn a level of trust. 

When beginning a new service for a new client, we must recognize our starting position. I'll wager that most service providers begin at the position of vendor. A vendor can be chosen with a very low level of commitment and trust. Vendors can easily be replaced. At this level, there is also a low tolerance for misunderstandings or mistakes. A misunderstanding could be confirmation that the server is not to be trusted. Our goal should be to serve with excellence, earn trust and develop the relationship. As trust develops, we can become a consultant and may be invited into a deeper relationship. Perhaps we reach the level of trusted partner. A partner is someone who has skin in the game, is known to be committed to the well being and protection of the other. When mistakes happen, the service is evaluated by the response and how the issues are handled rather than a perception of past sins .  High trust and relationships are built through exceptional service.

It's established. We are all going to serve somebody. If our goal is to provide the best experience, we should strive to be a partner. When we strive to be a partner, we must earn trust through exceptional service. To do this, we must always strive to protect our clients best interest. We should also be thankful for those who have been partners to us.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Welcome to my blog

Well, you've found me. But was the search worth it? I hope so, but only time will tell.

I am new to blogging and am not sure how this will go. I'm hoping that the information posted on this blog will stimulate thought, conversation, and genuine learning.

If you read about me, you know a little bit about my profession and personal life. But, I am more complex than what a few sentences can capture. I was born in New Jersey, raised in Southwest Louisiana, educated as an engineer, traveled the world for Boeing and Lockheed Martin, founded an engineering company, and settled in Greenville, South Carolina. So, wrapped into one you have an analytical, backwoods, city smart, cosmopolitan, entrepreneurial, friend of Jesus that considers the written use of English as a second language.  I hope to share learnings and add meaning by recording some of my life experiences. Kind of like Duck Dynasty meets The Apprentice.  Are you scared yet? Are you going to give up on me?

I hope you will visit this site often and join in my journey. Perhaps my comments will invoke something within. Maybe you will laugh, cry, get angry, or respond in violent agreement. I hope you will comment and add your insights. I hope we can all learn together and develop something meaningful.