Technology professional of the future: LER 590 UE - From normal engineering to tech vision


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Week five of LER 590 UE, Understanding Engineers, speculates on the differences between engineers today and the technology professional of the future. Using insights from tech visionary research, the historical record since World War II, and philosophical reflection, the talk suggests that tech pros of the future will necessarily be more creative, category creators, rather than the specialized category enhancers of times past.

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Technology professional of the future: LER 590 UE - From normal engineering to tech vision

  1. 1. Technology Professional of the FutureLER 590 - UE, Week 5: From Normal Engineering to Tech Vision<br />David E. GoldbergIESE, IFoundry, and School of Labor and Employment RelationsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbana, Illinois 61801<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  2. 2. Times They are a Changin’<br />Globalization shaking economies.<br />Cheap, effective talent around world can be hired & managed at distance.<br />Some claim creativity is current imperative.<br />Are tech professionals creative enough? Creative at all? Michael Davis comment.<br />Ramifications for HR in training & development.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Bob Dylan (b. 1941)<br />
  3. 3. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Roadmap<br />Tech visionary research overview by Ray Price.<br />History lesson:<br />The world is flat & all that.<br />Cold war curriculum in internet world?<br />The academy & 3 missed revolutions.<br />Technoeconomics behind the revolutions.<br />A landscape of Os: 3 Os and the missing O.<br />Postmodern systems & the qual-quant divide.<br />2 frameworks: Pink & Illinois TV research. <br />Philosophy lessons:<br />Philosophy as crisis response tool.<br />The missing basics.<br />
  4. 4. Raymond L. Price<br />Raymond L. Price, Severns Chair for Human Behavior, joined the faculty in the fall semester 1998. <br />Education: BS, MA from BYU and PhD in OB from Stanford.<br />Industrial career includes VP of Human Resources at Allergan, Inc., Director of Employee Training and Development for Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, positions at HP including Manager of Engineering Education.<br />Joined UIUC faculty (IESE) in 1998.<br />Research into tech visionaries & author of recent book on HP.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  5. 5. Tech Vision and HR<br />What are ramifications of tech visionary research for HR professional?<br />HR functions:<br />Hiring<br />Training & development<br />Promotion & retention.<br />Pull out sheet of paper and consider 3 ways how TV research might bring change to technologist-centered HR.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Raymond L. Price<br />
  6. 6. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />The World is Flat & All That<br />Widely asserted that world is flat and returns to creativity are increasing.<br />For example:<br />Tom Friedman, The World is Flat.<br />Richard Florida, Rise of the Creative Class.<br />Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind.<br />Root causes & implications for the TPOTF.<br />
  7. 7. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Cold War Mindset in Internet World?<br />Post WW2, US was only major nation not devastated by war.<br />US actions influential beyond borders.<br />In final days of the Vannevar Bush era.<br />Headed US wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development.<br />Report,Science, The Endless Frontier, set stage for NSF and ongoing funding of scientific research.<br />Curriculum, funding, P&T, and institution adapted to this change.<br />Vannevar Bush (1890-1974)<br />
  8. 8. Bigger & Centralized was Better<br />WW2/CW organizations were big and centralized.<br />Economies of scale dominated organizational economics.<br />Hierarchy dominated organizational thought.<br />Education molded to produce human products appropriate to size and specialization of corporate life.<br />Universities followed suit, funded in part from new stream of research monies.<br />Private sector has moved on. Universities have not.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  9. 9. Myth & Embrace of Science<br />World War 2 myth: Science won the war (bomb/radar).<br />World War 2 reality: Engineering won the war (P-51, Liberty ship, engineering, manufacturing, logistical prowess). <br />Liberty Ships: 16 shipbuilding yards, 230 days down to 42 days each, 2751 made<br />See DEG 1996 article Change in Engineering Education.<br />Effect on academy profound.<br />Computer science chose to call itself a “science.”<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  10. 10. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Thomas Kuhn & Paradigms<br />Working from Wittgenstein’s discursive turn, Kuhn published, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962.<br />Argued that science proceeds in fits and starts, not gradually.<br />Old paradigms, ways of thinking about the world, are overturned by revolutions, not gradually.<br />Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)<br />
  11. 11. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Paradigm of Tech Academy<br />The following assumptions were/are sacrosanct in many universities:<br />Basic engineering science is the key to college success.<br />Government funds superior to industry or foundation funds.<br />Faculty demonstrate mettle as individuals in narrow specialty with peer-reviewed journal papers in top journals.<br />Question one of these  incredulous stare, derision, and ridicule.<br />These beliefs are not themselves scientific.<br />They are a paradigm or a mindset that appeared to be successful in the 50s and 60s.<br />
  12. 12. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Function & Dysfunction of Paradigms<br />Paradigms are helpful because they become an unquestioned habit:<br />Masses work under the paradigm without question.<br />Share its values and form cohesive, unified organization.<br />When times change, paradigm is THE major obstruction to change.<br />The paradigm was major contributor to success of many universities in 1960s and 70s.<br />Now a major obstacle to change.<br />Tech academy victim of its past success.<br />Students still paying price of lock-in to cold war times.<br />
  13. 13. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />The Missed Revolutions<br />The paradigm was OK for WW2 & Cold War.<br />Slow to adapt to external changes thereafter.<br />Missed revolutions since WW2:<br />Quality revolution.<br />Entrepreneurial revolution.<br />IT revolution.<br />Teach the “revolutions,” but do not integrate lessons into academy or curriculum.<br />
  14. 14. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />A Technoeconomic Framework<br />Place revolutions in framework of underlying causes.<br />Missed revolutions enabled by technoeconomic effects:<br />Transport and communication improvements.<br />Network effects.<br />Transaction costs.<br />Puts past in perspective & project future trends.<br />Karl Mark (1818-1883)<br />
  15. 15. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Using the Free Market not Free!<br />Why has change been so relentless over past 50 years?<br />In institutional economics, a major determinant of organization size & structure are transaction costs. <br />Get up in morning and sell services to highest bidder? No, join organizations.<br />Using the free market is not free.<br />Relentless improvement of communication and transportation reduced transaction costs.<br />Ronald H. Coase (b. 1910)<br />
  16. 16. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Arthur & Network Returns<br />Reduced X-costs -&gt; small is good: <br />Outsourcing<br />Sticking to core competence as mantra.<br />Countervailing force: network returns:<br />Telecommunications.<br />Operating systems.<br />Interoperable search/advertising networks.<br />Big is better.<br />W. Brian Arthur<br />
  17. 17. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />The Landscape of Os<br />The O’s as “hot” areas in 21st century:<br />BiO<br />NanO<br />InfO<br />First two are different than the third: Science push, easy for cold warriors.<br />Info is customer pull.<br />Suggests the missing O.<br />
  18. 18. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />The Missing O<br />Radically networked world is having profound cultural effects.<br />Postmodern systems engineering demands better understanding of HomO sapiens (let’s call it SociO).<br />Homo sapiens as engineering concern:<br />QC: design for homo sapiens.<br />Postmodern systems:<br />HS-centered design: IT systems<br />Design a HS: engineered<br />Design like HS: Computational intelligence<br />Homo sapiens as actor, object, and collective.<br />
  19. 19. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Humans as Error in the Loop<br />During the Cold War, humans were an obstacle to the proper functioning of a system.<br />Tom Wolfe’s, The Right Stuff, plot: tension between pilots and techies who would eliminate them.<br />Cold War view: Humans are error in the loop, and error is to be eliminated.<br />
  20. 20. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Postmodern: Humans are the Loop<br />In internet world, human beings are integral part of the system.<br />Google as human preference engine. No humans, no Google.<br />Brute facts of physics not dominant in postmodern systems.<br />Examples:<br />What are the “physics” for Ebay?<br />What equations of motion govern Google?<br />What constitutive relations for MSOffice.<br />
  21. 21. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />SociO: Tech Pull, Humanities Push<br />The gap between qual and quant knowledge of human beings is an invitation.<br />New engineering discipline of human-centered design requires transfer of models from humanities, social sciences, & arts. <br />Requires reassessment of engineering canon in areas touching systems and socio.<br />Invites generation of new knowledge through combination of technology pull & humanities push.<br />
  22. 22. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />TPOTF: How to Create One?<br />Where should we turn to create tech professional of the future?<br />Consider two frameworks:<br />Dan Pink.<br />Illinois tech visionary (TV) research.<br />Category creators and how to create them?<br />
  23. 23. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Category Creators v. Enhancers<br />Premium is on category creators—those who creates new categories of product and service.<br />This requires different skill set.<br />Right-brained thinking: integrative, creative, intuitive.<br />MFA + Engineer vs. MBA + Engineer.<br />
  24. 24. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />6 Senses (Skills) for WNM<br />Design: Beyond function to meaning.<br />Story: Beyond data to narrative.<br />Symphony: Beyond specialization to integration.<br />Empathy: Beyond logic to empathy.<br />Play: Beyond seriousness to lightheartedness, games, & humor.<br />Meaning: Beyond material plenty to transcendence & meaning.<br />
  25. 25. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Tech Visionary Research<br />Recent studies at the University of Illinois.<br />Ray Price, Abbie Griffin, Bruce Vojak studied individuals responsible for bulk of new products.<br />Variety of industries, consumer, low-tech, hi-tech.<br />Looking for common threads.<br />Ray Price <br />
  26. 26. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Distinctive Findings of TV Research<br />TV personality.<br />TVs as problem finders in customer needs.<br />TVs as amateur market researchers.<br />TVs as market penetrators.<br />TVs as consumate corporate insiders. <br />TVs as consumate modelers.<br />
  27. 27. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />TVs as Problem Finders<br />“Well there was this problem with being able to X.”<br />TVs universally start from interesting customer problems.<br />“When you come across an area where your customer says this is too difficult to do, that is a license to go into business.”<br />Customer pull, not tech push.<br />
  28. 28. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Can’t Ignore Tabula Rasa<br />Being a category creator is tough.<br />Face the blank slate or tabula rasa.<br />How do we design when we don’t know how to talk about what we are designing?<br />This is linguistic challenge.<br />It is also categorical challenge. <br />Philosophy as (1) methodological & (2) crisis response.<br />
  29. 29. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Philosophy as Creative Method<br />Where in human history did large number of new thoughts take off?<br />Tech around for a long time (millions of years). Worth studying history of tech.<br />Consider thought explosion of 5th century BC in Greece.<br />Presocratics Socrates  Plato  Aristotle.<br />Explore in a moment.<br />Socrates (470-399 BCE)<br />
  30. 30. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Why Philosophy? Why Now?<br />Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:Response to crisis:<br />“I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their fields. Some have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers. Indeed, normal science usually holds creative philosophy at arm’s length, and probably for good reason…But that is not to say that the search for assumptions cannot be an effective way to weaken the grip of a tradition upon the mind and to suggest the basis for a new one.”<br />Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)<br />
  31. 31. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Philosophy: Crisis Response Tool<br />Scientists: New physics was disorienting and scientists turned to philosophy for “foundations.”<br />Engineers: Today’s tech world as disorienting to techies as Einstein’s world was to scientists.<br />Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering and Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology ( <br />
  32. 32. General Engineering & Senior Design<br />Raw data: Industrially sponsored senior design.<br />General Engineering at UIUC established in 1921 following curriculum study.<br />Grinter report of 1955 led to more math and engineering science at expense of design.<br />UCLA conference 1962.<br />Ford Foundation grant 1966.<br />Money ran out 1971.<br />Industrial funding supports thereafter.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Jerry S. Dobrovolny <br />
  33. 33. Ready, Set, Go<br />These are seniors.<br />Should be engineers on the threshold.<br />Express preferences for projects.<br />Get assigned to a project: 3-member teams & faculty advisor.<br />Go on the plant trip.<br />Query: What don’t they know how to do?<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  34. 34. Failure 1: Inability to Ask<br /><ul><li>Don’t know how to frame or ask good questions.
  35. 35. Difficulty probing the problem.
  36. 36. Trouble querying what has been tried.
  37. 37. Problem learning about vendors and sources of information.
  38. 38. Historical terms: Socrates 101.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Socrates (470-399 BCE)<br />
  39. 39. Failure 2: Inability to Label<br /><ul><li>Don’t know names of common systems, assemblies, and components of technology.
  40. 40. Difficulty labeling new artifact concepts or models.
  41. 41. Linguistically naïve.
  42. 42. Mainly comfortable with familiar categories and objects.
  43. 43. Historical terms: Aristotle 101. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Aristotle (384-322 BCE)<br />
  44. 44. Failure 3: Inability to Model<br /><ul><li>Don’t know how to model conceptually:
  45. 45. As causal chain.
  46. 46. As categorical list of types or kinds.
  47. 47. Pavlovian dogs when it comes to equations.
  48. 48. Need to understand problem qualitatively in words and diagrams prior to quantitative modeling undertaking.
  49. 49. Historical terms: Hume 101 or Aristotle 102.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />David Hume (1711-1776)<br />
  50. 50. Failure 4: Inability to Decompose<br /><ul><li>Don’t know how to decompose big problem into little problems.
  51. 51. Look for magic bullets in equations of motion.
  52. 52. Most projects too hard: Companies don’t pay $8500 for plugging into Newton’s laws.
  53. 53. Historical terms: Descartes 101?</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />René Descartes (1596-1650)<br />
  54. 54. Failure 5: Inability to Measure<br />Don’t know how to measure stuff or collect data.<br />Engineering taught as abstract math/science exercise.<br />Ignore benefit of direct measurement.<br />Historical terms: Locke 101 or Bacon 101?<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />John Locke (1632-1704)<br />
  55. 55. Failure 6: Inability to Visualize/Ideate<br />Don’t know how to draw sketches or diagrams when helpful.<br />Have trouble envisioning solutions.<br />Graphics education greatly diminished.<br />Historical terms: da Vinci or Monge 101.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  56. 56. Failure 7: Inability to Communicate<br /><ul><li>Finally finish the project.
  57. 57. Don’t know how to present or write for business.
  58. 58. “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
  59. 59. Historical terms: Newman 101.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Paul Newman (1925-2008)<br />
  60. 60. The Missing Basics vs. the Basics<br />Call these lacnuae the missing basics (MBs) vs. “the basics” = math, sci, & eng sci.<br />After 4 years they don’t know how to<br />Question: Socrates 101.<br />Label: Aristotle 101.<br />Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.<br />Decompose: Descartes 101.<br />Measure: Bacon-Locke 101.<br />Visualize/ideate: da Vinci-Monge 101.<br />Communicate: Newman 101<br />MBs as quality failure.<br />5th century BC as pivotal moment in human thinking.<br />MBs as keys to <br />lifelong learning,<br />interdisciplinarity.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  61. 61. What Can They Do?<br />Can plug & chug in Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s equations, and do big O.<br />Can talk about limited categories of tech discussed in class.<br />Can’t think qualitatively or reflectively.<br />Heidegger’s beef: Science/tech as merely calculative. Many w/ humanities PhilTech (HPT) view want engineers to contemplate the “bigger picture.”<br />More limited advocacy: Reflection (qualitative thinking) as central to engineering problem solving itself.<br />This is failure of engineering education & liberal education.<br />Reflection: How can/does HR respond to this gap?<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)<br />
  62. 62. © David E. Goldberg 2009<br />Bottom Line<br />From category enhancement to category creation.<br />Technoeconomicanalysis of where we are.<br />3 Os & the missing O. Postmodern systems.<br />Pink & Price: Category creators & tech visionaries. <br />Missing basics as central.<br />Ramifications for HR of the future considerable.<br />HR professionals who understand historically and conceptually will be in better place to innovate, aid their companies, and advance.<br />