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Author: Frederick "Ken: Sexe
A recent article adding to the many about the brilliance of Steve Jobs noted that creativity requires several things lacking in some industries. Creativity, this article reminds us, requires diverse experience and a curiosity to explore new things coupled with an ability to synthesize new ideas. Why is experience and curiosity so important in creativity? And, more importantly, why do most organizations find it hard to foster these abilities?
Imagine a barren wasteland devoid of any vegetation. Over time rain falls upon this landscape creating rivers and valleys. Over time this rain continues to fall creating areas with valleys deeper than other areas. This image is similar to how Edward deBono visualized how the mind works. The rain in this example is stimulus applied to a landscape representing the patterns of thought an individual has. One’s experiences continues to create a landscape in which stimulus prefers deeper patterns than others.
These patterns of thought have advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that we are able to recall complex patterns from memory very quickly. These patterns unfortunately can work to our disadvantage by biasing us into certain patterns of thought over others. Individuals with a diverse set of experiences have in essence more patterns that are shallower than those of an individual with a limited set of experiences and much deeper patterns of thought. These patterns are also asymmetrical in nature; a good example of this is saying your ABC’s forwards and backwards. It is much easier to say your ABC’s going forward than backward as these actions actually use two different patterns rather than the same pattern forwards and backwards.
Creativity comes when an individual is able to move from one pattern of thought to another. This results in a dominant pattern benefiting from the thinking that created another pattern. Steve Jobs benefited from his ability to apply a dominant pattern of thinking to patterns he had created with other experiences he had. Curiosity and synthesis, the other two factors Steve Jobs noted was important in creativity, encourages an individual to explore different patterns of thinking and applying these patterns to other dominant patterns to create new ideas.
Organizations can inadvertently limit their ability to develop creativity in several ways. One critical factor occurs in the hiring process with HR and hiring managers focusing solely on requirements found in the job description. Many organizations compound this problem by not providing training on how to interview candidates for their level of potential creativity among other things. Another critical factor is policies that discourage risk taking such as goals and financial controls that discourage collaboration and risk taking across functions that could provide new ideas spawning creative new ideas. Organizations within a particular industry also tend to hire within the industry thereby limiting the availability of individuals from outside their industry that can provide creative new insights.
There are obviously more factors to creativity and subsequent innovation than the ones included in this blog. There are also those within ASEM much more knowledgeable in creativity and innovation theory than I am. I sincerely hope that this blogs spurs some thinking that could be of value and introduce new ideas to our fellow ASEM members.
Graphic Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/rays-thoughts-construct-does-face-516326/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Frederick (Ken) Sexe is a lifelong learner currently wrapping up his PhD in Engineering Management and Organizational Psychology at Northcentral University. His hobbies include challenging prevailing patterns of thinking that discourage new ideas while developing new ways to do things. He is currently employed as a Senior Systems Engineer at Raytheon where he is taking a career break from management to pursue his educational goals and focus on his family.
Author: Gene Dixon, ASEM President
First some announcements regarding increasing the value of your ASEM membership:
1) We are finalizing the transition to ASEM World HQ in Huntsville. I visited there January 5, 2015 and met with Angie Cornelius, ASEM Office Manager. The complex has eye appeal and provides business services approaching best in class. A spacious conference room and an ideal training/meeting facility are key features. This will be good for the growth of the organization and the increased support services will give us new opportunities to provide more member value.
2) As you now know, the ASEM has gone to annual membership renewals. By moving to an annual basis, we will avoid the end of the year hassle for members to make sure dues are paid up. From an (engineering) management point of view, a flatter revenue stream will support improved fiscal planning.
It keeps getting better:
Here are a couple of opportunities for you to add value, grow the society and maybe even retain members. Invite someone to join. In a push for 1000, 2000 or 5000 members, it only takes a brief discussion with a colleague. If you believe in this society, why not?
And, what if the Indy IAC was an IAC with 500 attendees? How could that happen? What if each of us invited someone to attend the 2015 IAC? No doubt it would scare the planning committee. That would be a good scare. Just think of the headlines “The ASEM 500”.
Growth, value, retention. Easy to remember. Easy to do - just ask someone. Easy to enjoy. Growth will give us more opportunities to add value. Added value makes it easier to find a reason to renew.
Remember the challenge from the last eNews. Well here’s a thank you to all who shared with me your goals for 2015. You guys are good! You think big! You have in mind what is important for all of us. And you certainly know how to challenge the ASEM officers to keep things moving. Truly, I appreciate your encouragement. Now, works shoes on. Sleeves rolled up. Let’s make it happen. For you. For ASEM.
Tricia Simo Kush is a recently certified Professional Engineering Manager. Her background is in Information Technology with a goal is to take her career to a higher level through Engineering Management. To her, Engineering Management is a fascinating mix of technology and business, people and process. Follow her on Twitter (@TSimoKush) or check out her profile on LinkedIn.
I hope that everyone had a terrific end of semester / end of year holiday season. For me, it was a bit more hectic and stressful than usual. I started a new consulting assignment in the middle of December and tried very hard to become acclimated as my new co-workers left on scheduled vacations. Ah, change and transition. While I'm not really truly settled into this new role - yet - it certainly provided the opportunity for me to reflect and plan for the upcoming year.
As many of you know, I spend a fair amount of time reading blogs and articles on topics germane to Engineering Management. "Leadership" seemed to be the buzzword of choice in 2014 for any number of reasons. As I stepped into this new position, I considered the ways that I could bring my own style of leadership to the role.
Fortunately for you, dear readers, one of my favorite bloggers captured my thoughts much more succinctly than I could post.
I started following Terri Klass in 2014, about the same time that I stepped into the ASEM blog. I like her approach to leadership and the clear style of her posts. She's always very kind on Twitter when I retweet her blog URLs, too. Her post on "Five Ways To Spice Up Your Leadership" captured my attention as I took my first steps in this new assignment.
DISCLAIMER: While Terri has my wheels turning, the following suggestions and interpretations are largely my own (any errors or missed marks are mine alone, too).
In following the topics within Terri's post:
"GET TO KNOW A NEW COLLEAGUE OR CO-WORKER"
That is pretty much all that I've been doing for the past three weeks, and I continue to do so. Fortunately, there are two people on my current project that I've met in past projects (the IT market in the Twin Cities can be rather small at times), so not every face is a new one. Along with new co-workers, I've had to learn new processes and meet the people in charge with those as well. I've been reminding myself that this IS the only "first impression" that I get to make, so I need to be sharp, friendly and a good listener / note taker. In time, I will follow Terri's advice and create deeper connections with some of these talented professionals.
"SIGN-UP FOR A NEW COURSE OR WEBINAR"
I'm excited to learn more about what ASEM is presenting in the months ahead. The Communications Committee has a tall goal of providing monthly webinars to the members and I know that there are a number of great topics on the schedule for 2015. Effective leadership doesn't happen all at one time, as you know. You need to keep evolving, learning and growing. The successful people on your team are dynamic individuals, so it falls to you to be just as energetic in your ideas!
"JOIN A NEW COMMUNITY"
Insert shameless plug for ASEM participation here. Seriously, Terri is correct in telling her readers that "[T]he knowledge you can gain and the leaders you can meet is beyond measure." You've paid your dues, you already support the organization; why not get involved?! For example, the 2015 IAC will be here before you know it, and the conference planning committee is actively seeking corporate sponsors. Maybe this is the year you and your company step forward to support the advancement of Engineering Management principles on a global scale?
"ASK FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF PROJECT"
For me, this is key to "Keeping the Saw Sharp" (my favorite 'Habit' from Stephen Covey's bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). As a consultant, it's absolutely critical to improve yourself and find ways add value to your key areas (work, family, whatever you decide). It's the same for any leader; cross-training makes everyone on your team more effective and valuable, and it also provides you with an important learning opportunity. I've found that most people like to share their work, particularly if they've found a way to make it more effective or meaningful. Why not learn more and develop a deeper appreciation for the people around you?
"FIND A MENTOR"
I cannot stress this enough. It's my opinion that you get the best advice from two kinds of people: The people that have done what you are trying to do, and the people that are doing what you are trying to do. This is where mentors come in. A great goal for 2015 is for find a mentor (or a few) and really spend the time to learn and grow from their experience. Leaders surround themselves with people that provide guidance, ideas and feedback. This can be the year where you invest in yourself and take charge of your path to success.
Do you see any areas where you can spice up your leadership? Share your ideas here or through any of our social media channels and continue the conversation!
I’m starting to think deeply about 2015. The end of any year is a time for corporate and personal reflection. Corporate reflection is a review of performance towards targets and goals, a very quantitative reflection. For ASEM, our performance is measured in part in terms of the financial success of the 2014 IAC; the growth of our membership base, student and professional; and, member value created through training, certifications, and communications.
Personal reflection is more subjective. I like to reflect on how much personal growth I have experienced over the last year. My list of areas of personal growth is longer now that I’ve assumed the role of ASEM President. Already, I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of personal interaction with members, not just for me but for all of the officers and volunteers that make up this vibrant organization. I’m growing personally by dealing with the speed with which change occurs – much too slow for me. Yet, I’m learning anew that deliberative processes and participative decision making take time. I’m growing as I try to match the energy so many of you demonstrate in moving ASEM forward. I’m growing as I look for opportunities to drive bold new initiatives along with ways of encouraging new ways of thinking in addressing both the nagging issues and the great opportunities that lie before the ASEM. I’m glad to report progress is being made. There will be more to say about that in January and throughout 2015.
So in what areas am I looking for personal growth in 2015? Learning more about working with/in the ASEM to grow our voice and our membership around the globe. Learning how to identify opportunities for energetic ASEM members to apply themselves in creating service and products that add value to being and ASEM member. Learning how to better tap the rich resource of experienced and previous ASEM leaders to help advise the current ASEM leadership. And, learning how to establish a scorecard system for the ASEM President; a challenging work already in progress.
That’s just me.
How about you? What does your personal reflection about 2014 indicate that you should be pursuing in 2015? Being a little more selfish, when it comes to ASEM in 2014, what do your personal reflections suggest for 2015? For your personal growth? For the society’s member growth, member value and member retention? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Just send me a note and we'll consider it a conversation over a holiday themed brew.
And, from my house to yours, here are three recordings from our son for your holidays. Please accept this as my thanks for your ASEM efforts–from dues paying to committee chairing–along with my wish for every ASEM member that you will have a safe and festive season and a very prosperous 2015.
New for 2014:
And a classic (to me) from 2013
Graphic credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
Sometimes I just sit and write random thoughts. Right now, I’m in a hotel room, twelve floors above the beach. It’s a cloudy night. No stars. The balcony doors are open. The sound of the surf brings a feeling of calmness. On the horizon, the lights of the cargo ship are flashing. There is the occasional sound of an F35 cutting through the night sky. It’s the eve of the start of the ASEM 2014 IAC.
Someone asked me to write a few words for the ASEM blog. Write whatever comes to mind. In a few hours, I’ll have a new role in ASEM. Some might call it a leadership role. I think it is more about an experience in service.
Leadership. Sometimes we aspire to it. Sometimes we might be forced into it. Sometimes we might be elected to it. Sometimes we just act our way into in.
If there was a potion for creating leaders, would engineering managers ever use it? Why would they expect a potion to do what only the tempering of experience can do? Experience is the beginning of leadership. Experience is the one true method for leadership development.
Leadership is a process that is composed of leaders, followers and purpose. A system of actions and reactions. A system of interactions. Like sharpening a saw, developing leadership within an organization is an interactive process of leader and follower interacting to achieve a goal, a reason, a purpose. Maybe it involves providing a service to someone, for someone?
ASEM leadership is like that. So many volunteer leaders and followers. Members having a desire to move this society into an international voice for engineering managers everywhere. Members who want to provide a service to practitioners, to students, to faculty. Or for each one of those. Practitioners and academics, students and mentors, theorists and users all coming together to provide value to ASEM, to their employers, to their institution and to themselves. Leadership development through service and experience in a professional society. Service that adds value to present members and members yet to come. Experience that teaches and molds and shapes. Members who have been led by other members. Experience that is shared and gained.
ASEM is a lot of folks from a lot of places with a diversity of interest bound in a commonality called ASEM. ASEM is a place with a common core of knowledge focused on strategic management, leadership and organization, and systems of people. Primarily knowledge workers. Hard workers.
ASEM offers opportunities to gain leadership experience. Be a leader. Be a follower. Bring along someone new. Be ASEM.
The surf. The sound of sea coming to shore. Bringing one side of the world to the other. ASEM brings us together. In service. In experience. In leadership.
Your leadership development can start with ASEM experiences.
Author: Angie Cornelius, ASEM Outreach Director
The Systems Management and Production (SMAP) Center was established in 1988. As the largest Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville(UAH), the SMAP Center provides expertise, leadership, and support to the Army, NASA, other government agencies, as well as several private sector organizations.
ASEM now has a building which will be used for onsite training, BoD meetings, and other ASEM activities. The SMAP Center will provide a team of support which will allow the continued growth of our society.
About Huntsville: Located in North Alabama, Huntsville has a highly-skilled and highly educated workforce, which according to the Census includes the highest concentration of engineers in the nation. Employment from the Military, space industry, telecommunications, biotechnology, and diversified manufacturing is a primary draw for the well-educated.
For more information, please see the UAH SMAP Center Website at http://www.uah.edu/SMAP/. If you are ever in town, please visit!
Looking Toward 2015 - A Small Request
The Communications Committee had a meeting last week, and we reviewed what we've done with the blog for the past few months and what we would like to see in the future. This is a great time for you - our readers - to chime in and let us know how we're doing.
Is there something you'd like to see? Maybe you'd like to hear from someone specific or on a topic that is significant to you. Just let us know by commenting below or leaving your ideas through any of our social media outlets. We would really love to have your feedback!
Author: Gene Dixon, ASEM President
Introduced by Tricia Simo Kush, PEM
The ASEM eNews (another great benefit from ASEM) was sent out earlier this week. Within the content is a note from the 2015 ASEM President, Gene Dixon. I'd like to bring his words here to share with our blog audience.
Without further ado, here's Gene!
The ASEM 2014 International Annual Conference was fast-paced, entertaining and educational. Kudos to the ODU host and the technical program committee. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you missed it, I’m surprised.
At the membership meeting – thought for sure I saw everyone there – we took a quick look at the events of the past 2014. Great things happened. New ASEM World Headquarters. Significant membership growth. Social media hits continue to build. Monthly webinars that add value for members. The EMJ continues to rock on. The international footprint continues to expand. And, the best conference (numbers) ever.
It’s been “..all good.” to paraphrase outgoing President Beth Cudney.
And now it’s time for 2015 ASEM. Yep, I meant to say it that way. With a great start in October, the 2015 ASEM is tracking for membership growth, membership value and membership retention.
And so, we turn to you, the ASEM members, with two questions: 1) In your opinion, what can 2015 ASEM do to promote membership growth, membership value and membership retention; and, 2) what can you do?
Those questions were asked at the Membership Meeting at the 2014 IAC. And those attending gave some answers. For the first question, there were good, challenging, thoughtful answers. Those answers are cycling through the ASEM Executive Committee’s plans for 2015 already. We’ll be busy. But we won’t be alone. We’ve got you pushing, encouraging, and helping. And we’re glad you are there.
For the second question, what can you do, the answers were introspective and powerful. Ask colleagues to join in order to gain new members. Volunteer to add value. And challenge every member to renew. Start new student chapters. Build professional sections. There was energy and excitement in those answers.
And we’re not done. If the 2015 ASEM is to reach beyond the progress 2014, we all need to be engaged for growth, value and retention. United, the 2015 ASEM will be bigger, significant, and experienced.
And yet, it seems there is more to be considered. What is most important to you? How can ASEM provide value? How can ASEM grow? How can each of you be active and engaged?
If for some reason you missed the membership meeting at the 2014 IAC your voice is no less important. What can ASEM do to grow the membership, add membership value, and retain members? And what can you do?
Tell me. Call me. Write me. Let me know what you think. And, sooner is better.
2015 President, American Society for Engineering Management
FYI-President Gene Dixon can be reached by phone at 252 7371031 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to take a moment to share some news about upcoming and recent ASEM activities. Granted, the association is rather dynamic and there always seems to be a bustle of activity someplace in the organization. For me, it helps to write things down so I don't miss any of the action; your mileage may vary.
The next ASEM webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, November 19th at 11:00 AM Central Time. The ASEM Executive Director, Dr. Bill Daughton, will be presenting the topic 'ASEM EMBOK and Professional Certification.' As an ASEM member, webinars are free and a great way to keep your Professional Development Units (PDUs) current. This webinar will include the history and evolution of the ASEM Engineering Management Book Of Knowledge (EMBOK), and its relationship to the Engineering Manager Professional Certification (EMPC) program. In Bill's words: "This webinar will be important for anyone considering establishing professional certification as an engineering manager."
If you are interested in attending, please register here . If you are interested but unable to attend, be sure to check the ASEM store to download a copy of the webinar.
The other news I'd like to mention is that the conference pictures are uploaded and ready for you to view. You can check out all the fun through the conference website or directly through the ASEM Facebook page. There are a few posts with photos in them, too.
Just to link the two topics together, be sure to take note your attendance and participation at this year's conference as part of your PDU tracking. If you need more information around PDUs, there's a helpful document that you can find here, with more information available on the ASEM website. You've worked hard for your certification, so don't miss an opportunity to keep your notes up-to-date.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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