The New Employment Deal and the Impact on NPD Knowledge Workers

I recently wrote a blog post about the impact of demographic shifts and how engineer’s roles are defined. As I pointed out, these demographic changes will impact dramatically how companies manage their talent pool and is happening at the same time that the “employment deal” is changing. Continue reading

The Generalist vs. Specialist Engineer Argument

This topic comes up periodically and a recent article in Harvard Business Review entitled “Redesigning Knowledge Work” prompted me to re-visit my own thinking on the topic.

Specialist vs GeneralistEvery organization who employs engineers faces decisions about how to structure their roles on project teams. I am specifically talking about engineering organizations that employ a variety of skill sets who come together on teams for a period of months to years to develop highly engineered, standardized products. Some good examples include whether an electrical engineer should not only do architecture and design, but also do PCB layout. Or should the PCB layout be done by a lower-level ECAD employee? How about the more senior mechanical engineers with years of experience? Should they be responsible not only for 3D modeling, but detail drawings as well? I think in most cases the roles just “work themselves out” without any specific decisions being made one way or another. That may be a mistake. Of course, decisions about roles influence formal job descriptions, if used, and impacts hiring and recruiting strategies for new or replacement engineers. Continue reading

What’s the “Right” Definition of Marketing?

This is a question that when asked, you get a variety of answers. In many cases, the definition is too narrow, and only focuses on advertising and outward communication to customers. Sometimes it is confused with sales. One of the classic, timeless descriptions of the difference between sales and marketing comes from Theodore Levitt’s famous 1960 Harvard Business Review article, “Marketing Myopia”.  In Levitt’s definition, selling focuses on the needs of the seller. It’s all about turning a product into a revenue stream. Marketing on the other hand is focused on the needs of the buyer and meeting their needs. That definition of the difference has stood the test of time, but is often forgotten. Continue reading