One of the best classes I attended at the AVM PMA Summit in London last week was focused on management skills for an engineering environment.
George Ringger lead a session focused on the difference between decisions and goals in the manufacturing business environment. Ringger has taught at Embry-Riddle and advised business on manufacturing and continuous airworthiness subjects in both the quality and engineering disciplines, so he has seen what works and he has seen what does not work.
He began by explaining that a goal is something you are trying to achieve, and decisions are the choices we make as we try to meet our goals. Using this simple dichotomy as the basis, he laid out a very-effective system for effective and successful management in the modern aerospace workplace.
Ringer presented a case study in which the management goal was to reduce development costs. The business decided to go from three prototypes to one prototype. This should have saved 66% on the prototype costs, but the prototype failed and this resulted in a 12 week delay in the program while a second prototype was built.
Other examples of poor decisions can include using structural analysis when testing is faster and less expensive (or vice-versa). It is important to use the right approach to PMA development! because the correct choice can vary with the parrts.
In case study number two Ringger discussed a. PMA company that reverse engineered a nose landing gear bushing. In fact, the nose landing gear featured 12 bushings that were identical except for dimensions (particularly the materials were identical). By limiting the analysis to only one bushing, the company missed an opportunity to PMA all 12 of the bushings at the same time.
In case study number three, Ringger discussed a. PMA company that reverse engineered a part that perfectly matched the OEM part. But the customer had issues with premature failures on the OEM part, so the failure to engineer the part from the ground up meant that the PMA manufacturer failed to redesign the part and correct the features leading to customer disappointment. This shows that it is important to know what your customer’s concerns are and to choose a design method they permits you to meet the customer’s needs.
By using effective management, Ringger explained how to overcome limitations in order to develop an internal user-centric system. The purpose of this system is to ensure that your parts designs will meet customer needs and desires. He also discussed strategies for setting SMART goals. He discussed his SMART squared approach to goal setting in order to motivate engineers to make smart decisions and achieve results. Goals should feature these ten qualities:
In his program, Ringger explains how each of these elements help to ensure that you establish effective goals, make decisions that support your goals, and develop work assignments to support the decisions.
This was one of the best presentations I have seen for managing engineering staff. We have already reached out to Ringger to invite him to speak at the 2014 MARPA Conference in Las Vegas. Everyone who manages a technical staff should make plans to attend his session!