Monthly Archives: February 2015

‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’

130-3071_IMGMy title is unashamedly borrowed from Richard Plepler, CEO of the premium US cable network, HBO.  He was quoted in an interview reported in the Financial Times on January 11th, 2015 [Lunch with the FT by Matthew Garrahan].  It was said in the context of discussing how a company can encourage creativity.  I like it because it sums up my own approach to nurturing an environment in which high-quality innovative research can flourish.  The role of the leader is to establish and maintain that environment in which everyone must feel able to express their opinions and then once the decision is made be prepared to unite in achieving the goal.  This requires a level of transparency that many leaders find hard to implement and ability to listen to dissenting views that most leaders find difficult or impossible to tolerate. Good leaders create a culture in which people feel safe expressing their views.  To quote Richard Plepler again “Someone once said to me, ‘You made the room safe to talk.’ And I said. ‘If you want to win, what other way is there to be?'”.

Engineering is a creative profession in which we need to worry more about culture and less about strategy.  Of course, bringing about culture change is much harder than writing a new strategy!


Good reads for budding engineers

Photo credit: Tom

Photo credit: Tom

I have been asked to help populate a school library with books that will be of interest to prospective engineers.  I suspect there is a sub-text that it would be good to include books that might stimulate more pupils to consider becoming engineers.  I think this is a hard task and so I am hoping my readers will help me by leaving a comment in the form a personal recommendation.

There are a number of suggested reading lists available, e.g. the one provided by Cambridge University Engineering Department.  However, the feedback that I have had from an enthusiastic budding engineer is not encouraging.  She found all the books she read from these lists to be dull and uninspiring.  So, that’s why I am issuing a challenge this week: find books connected to engineering that under-18s think are interesting!

Please don’t send me a recommendation unless you have actually checked with a teenage that they enjoyed it.