Technical vitality?

Subject: Technical vitality?
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 14:30:27 -0800

Here's something to think about... and maybe to file for use
the next time you're either requesting conference travel or
duking it out with corporate managers about overhead and cost
recovery. It's from an article in the November issue of IEEE
Spectrum, "Engineering layoffs: facts and myths," by Trudy Bell.

Managers can control the amount of work time
and personal time available for technical
vitality by the job demands that they place
on their people," wrote Paul R. Gehrmann,
director of systems software at IBM corporate
headquarters in Somers, NY, in his March 8, 1993
study, _Technical Vitality of Pechnical Profes-
sionals: A Competitive Advantage of the 1990s._
"If every assignment is a crusade, where very
aggressive schedule targets are most important
and require extensive overtime, and the nature
of the work does not result in vitality, vitality
will suffer."

From surveys conducted in the course of preparing
the study, Gehrmann found: "Guidelines or require-
ments...for the company time that a technical pro-
fessional should spend on vitality activities range
from 10% to 33%, with 20% the most frequently
mentioned." He added, "Unimportant or unchallenging
work is often a distinguishing characteristic of a
non-vital organization."

The article also quotes Science Applications International
Corporation division manger Joseph Fragola on the pernicious
effects of low recharge rates:

An employee working on low-rate business is "being
used up" [by comparison to the overall SAIC R&D freedom
to spend about 15% of time on business development,
research, etc.]. Technology moves on, and he can't keep
pace. Eventually the low-rate business becomes a
repository of incompetence."

This is just one of the topics mentioned in the article. Whether
you're a corporate professional or a manager, I'd suggest finding
and reading it. I'd fax you a copy but the sweat on my palms has
smeared the soy-based ink. That's a joke. I suppose.


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