Embedded understanding

Do you ever feel like General Brooks at one of those Iraq war CENTCOM briefings? You know, you're trying to explain a complex project and the people in your audience keep asking those same, dumb, unrelated questions? Are they stupid, or ignorant, or just not listening, or what? Or are they trying to use your platform to advance their own agendas? If it hasn't happened to you, I know you've seen...

05/06/2003


Do you ever feel like General Brooks at one of those Iraq war CENTCOM briefings? You know, you're trying to explain a complex project and the people in your audience keep asking those same, dumb, unrelated questions? Are they stupid, or ignorant, or just not listening, or what? Or are they trying to use your platform to advance their own agendas?

If it hasn't happened to you, I know you've seen it happen to somebody else.

I don't know how the military briefers keep their composure day after day.

During the first Iraqi war, Desert Storm, the folks on the Saturday Night Live TV show did a great parody on these kinds of press conferences. Right after "the general" explained that he would not reveal operational details, a "member of the press" would ask where, precisely, would the next air strike be and when, exactly, would they drop their bombs.

These kinds of episodes demonstrate some of the major problems of communication between those who know and those who don't know. The problems are the same whether you're a general or a plant engineer — or an editor.

I knew an editor once who received some criticism from a reader about an article. It wasn't very understandable, the reader said. The editor's response was that the article was perfectly well written; if the readers couldn't understand it, that was their problem.

Wrong.

It is always the communicator's responsibility to make himself/herself understood. And often the reason we don't get the support we need is because we haven't succeeded in making ourselves understood.

A lot of things get in the way of this understanding. Our backgrounds, for example, bring all kinds of filters to the ways we express and the ways we interpret things. Even if we think we all speak the same language, we don't. Engineers and financial people rarely speak the same language in talking about their work. We joke about how IT people have a language of their own.

Knowledge is another huge factor. How can I explain the need for a new lift truck, if you don't know what a lift truck is? It does me little good to talk about applying the principles of Six Sigma performance if you have no idea of what Six Sigma means.

Experience is yet another factor. You cannot fully identify with my frustration in troubleshooting an electrical system if you have never tried troubleshooting a problem yourself.

One of the reasons the military agreed to embed journalists with the troops in Iraq was to help overcome these kinds of problems in communication and understanding.

Maybe we should embed some plant engineers in the financial department and some management executives in the maintenance department.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
What controller fits your application; Permanent magnet motors; Chemical manufacturer tames alarm management; Taking steps in a new direction
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on preventing compressed air leaks and centrifugal air compressor basics and best practices for the "fifth utility" in manufacturing plants.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me