Engineering Communications Blog

Engineering Communications

Engineering Communications is the place for conversation and discussion about communicating effectively at work.

Previous in Blog: Worth Reading: "Success Through Failure"   Next in Blog: Communicating Numbers
Close
Close
Close
2 comments

One… Two…Three: Communicate!

Posted November 05, 2007 3:55 PM by Consultgene

Check out the current issue of the Harvard Business Review, which features a very interesting and practical article, "Are Your Engineers Talking to One Another When They Should?"

According to authors Sosa, Eppinger, and Rowles, an impressive collaboration hailing from Insead, MIT, and Pratt & Whitney, respectively, "cost overruns, schedule slippage, and quality problems often result from a failure to provide timely information or resources." While this is no news to most people reading this, what you may find helpful are the authors' recommended research and communications tools.

Taking the development of a complex new product as the example to rally around, they simplify the process in three easy steps: Interview the System Architects; Survey the Component Design Teams; and then Combine the Results.

First, ask the senior engineers responsible for the product's overall function and layout to identify the technical design interfaces among, in this case, four components. One of the questions that might be asked, "Do some components transfer forces, material, energy, or information to other components to enable them to work properly?"Answers to these and other questions can be used to create a 4X4 design interface matrix.

In step two, technical information and/or resources are identified that the people working on each component expect from members of other component teams. Another 4X4 matrix, called a team interaction matrix, is created.

In the third and final step, the two matrices are overlaid to spawn a third matrix (last one [enough with the matrices!]) called the alignment matrix. The overlay reveals the matches and mismatches between the product's architecture and the teams' expectations.

The third matrix further reveals "unattended interfaces," which turn out to be critical, according to the authors. "Those critical, unattended interfaces mostly occur when the teams involved came from different parts of the organization." Silos, "not invented here," and similar common organizational illnesses come to mind.

I like the simplicity of this tool and can see it applied in a variety of applications to help avoid miscommunication.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Commentator

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 83
Good Answers: 1
#1

Re: One… Two…Three: Communicate!

11/06/2007 2:13 AM

Sounds interesting--can you post a link?

__________________
If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy? A Great American
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 16
#2
In reply to #1

Re: One… Two…Three: Communicate!

11/06/2007 9:25 AM

Go to HBR.com

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 2 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: Worth Reading: "Success Through Failure"   Next in Blog: Communicating Numbers

Advertisement