Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Tuning over discordance

When most outsiders hear the term “engineering,” they see visions of complex math problems, electronics, computers and maybe bridges and buildings. For these people, “management” doesn’t immediately come to mind.

But for IIE members in the know, engineering and management go together like cheese and a burger or coffee and the morning. We even have a Society for Engineering and Management Systems (SEMS) and an accompanying magazine, Industrial Management.

How your systems and people interact with each other and with other people can differentiate between success and another Enron. How you manage all those different entities and moving parts can yield a current masterpiece like Google or a clunker like the Edsel.

David R. King and Samuel M. DeMarie liken organizational culture to a piece of music. Form, genre, harmony, melody and other musical aspects must work together within your enterprise. After all, heavy metal lead guitarists don’t normally front trios who specialize in Argentinian tango tunes.

"Tuning Up Organizational Culture" takes readers through a three-step process to figuring out what’s important, selecting for cultural fit and applying these factors to retention and promotion. Successful examples range from the aforementioned Google to 18th century industrialization to the famous naval battle off Cape Trafalgar.

In an age where staff reductions and the drive to do more with less have some employees accomplishing multiple tasks with similar resources, an organization’s musical tune can be jarring to the participants. Harmonizing those harsh notes can lead to a sense of identity that can have formerly discordant organizational silos pulling in the right direction.

So whether your idea of beauty resides in the late Miles Davis’ jazz trumpet, Brazilian bossa nova or entirely different genres, start getting in the right tune for your enterprise.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at mhughes@iienet.org or (770) 349-1110.