IIE as a subject for
By Jesse W. Brogan
President, The Management Upgrade Shop
Management engineering is an emerging area of industrial engineering, the application of basic efficiency principles to the work of gaining performance through an organization. A first level of evaluation for the operation of IIE is found through examining the organization’s existing mission and vision statements.
IIE provides leadership in developing industrial engineering; in representing the industrial engineering profession; and in enhancing the capabilities of those who are involved in or manage the application, education, training, research or development of industrial engineering.
IIE Vision Statement
The Institute will be globally recognized as the premier membership organization for industrial engineers and their profession. The Institute will value and serve its individual members and customers and exceed their expectations and requirements.
The Assignment Test: “Looking at these statements as an employee or worker within IIE, do they provide you personal guidance on what you should or should not accomplish through your efforts.”
The Customer Test: “Looking at these statements as a dues-paying member, do they provide assurance that you will receive the value that supports your decision to pay dues?”
The result of the test: These statements are not written to support performance, and are accordingly insufficient to serve management engineering.
Management engineering techniques are designed to support the efficient management of organizations. A primary purpose is to draw the efforts of workers to a singular performance focus that is defined at the top of the organization. I start with the pairing principle (IE, Feb 2004, Member Forum), which associates the products of the organization with those who receive and value it.
The first step is identification of the functional customers; these are the ones who provide the resources that guarantee the continued existence of the organization because they receive value. IIE is funded through membership dues, clearly identifying dues-paying members as the organization’s functional customers.
The next step is identification of functional products. Functional products are what functional customers both value and receive from the organization. Whatever IIE members value and receive because they pay their dues, are functional products. The organization will best assure its own continuation and health by generating and delivering those products most valued by its members.
I would caution against the modern mismanagement direction of looking for what such an organization is best able to provide. The organization is not its own functional customer, and nothing that the organization does for its own purposes will increase its value to those who fund it. The strategic focus has to be on those who provide business income. These members are working industrial engineers and students of industrial engineering. I recognize three general classes of functional product that will be so valued as to generally encourage payment of dues: credentials, community and promotion.
The credentials addressed will be those valued by practicing industrial engineers and engineering students. Value will be partly dependent upon the notoriety of IIE among those who will review or see their credentials, and partly on the value of membership credentials as tokens of the member’s professional characteristics or abilities.
Industrial engineers tend to get locked up in jobs. Their communication within their profession, and with people who understand their abilities, aspirations and limits, is often constricted. Professional events and advances in their professions are easily missed. A good means for communication to and among members and leaders in the profession is a very valuable service.
Industrial engineers value their own hard work in obtaining degrees and other indications of ability or witnesses to effort. These need to be presented to others in such a way that the individual engineer can benefit. Again, notoriety of the organization among those who will hire or otherwise reward industrial engineers for their membership in IIE is extremely valuable to the member.
engineering is technical support for management. Value is found in the ability of this
technical support to bring a corporate effort to a sharp focus on performance
essentials, so that managers can best assure the generation of value. In this case, we are addressing the direction
of the larger effort of the
Differences in direction of action from present efforts are obvious from the beginning. IIE is not presently in the business of producing visible membership signs, and has little emphasis on assuring the value of credentials it issues for meeting the needs of members. The focus of publications seems good, but emphasis on interpersonal communication is in serious need of study. IIE efforts to promote IE’s can only be called primitive; with past efforts focused more on convincing new IE’s to joint than on promoting those who are paying the bill.
One of the greatest sources of value will be the notoriety of IIE, giving us a fourth functional product. The notoriety of IIE cannot be accomplished by services to members, but only by services to those who will hire or otherwise value IIE members.
Even this first general analysis has identified classes of important beneficiaries for IIE services that now receive nothing. Consider the potency of an IIE publication serving as an “Operator’s Manual” for the person who hires or otherwise purchases the services of an industrial engineer.
With the change in focus, we can seek to maximize, in terms of income-generating value, the four classes of functional products identified above.
Focus on Credentials:
credentials are unlikely to have value to members until they have value to senior
IIE management. When I joined, I did so
on the basis of my 1967 degree from the
Our present venal attitude toward membership will only change when IIE management openly demonstrates their commitment to assuring the value of membership; and that through resourcing the effort that will accomplish close checking of candidates before allowing entrance. IIE credentials will have value to members only after others in the business environment become aware that they are something that cannot be bought for any price; but must be earned by education or practice. There is a second necessary effort: communicating this new attitude to others in the business environment.
Credentials need to be worth showing. Every member should probably be given a periodic membership certificate suitable to frame and put on the wall, attesting to their individual membership activities, associations and accomplishments. It will have value when members are eager to post these on the wall, and perhaps want to send copies to employers to announce who they are and what they can do.
Credentials will grow in value only as IIE becomes notorious, either for its value or for its activity. In its present form, IIE is not known for the value it produces for anyone except its members.
Focus on Community:
Community is built on people who share something such as a common expertise or educational experience. The sharing of this expertise, both in its increase and its application, is the basis for community. Professional Journals are an important part of this sharing. Other sharing opportunities do not appear to be strongly encouraged in today’s operations.
Can we increase the value of our IE journal to members? Consider a regular listing of technology transfer items that seem to have good promise, with contacts for gaining further information. The IE is better able to support innovation than other professionals, and the IE who identifies this type of potential may have increased value to an employer.
The current focus, on IE’s presenting ideas, applications and interest items for each other in journals and conferences is valuable, but there is a great deal more potential if the focus is widened to a more general definition of community. Should business management groups be invited to be a spectator for IIE events?
Focus on Promotion:
The value of my membership as to personal promotion is how much additional salary a prospective employer is likely to pay for my services because I proclaim myself as a member of IIE. It is how much more likely an employer would be to hire me if I proclaim membership. Would it be worth more if I was active in IIE than just maintaining membership?
We currently have no effective IIE focus on promotion. The present focus is on creating and maintaining membership, a focus that has little if any direct value to the current member.
The more general concept of “promoting industrial engineering” may be a lofty-sounding goal, but is a false direction when addressing value to individuals who you want to join the organization. IIE is going to promote industrial engineering whether or not some specific IE joins; and that IE will get the same benefit from the promotion of the general profession whether or not he joins. The need is for adding personal value to membership in IIE.
Implementing a more effective attitude and approach will start with central management, with an internal change in what is important. Making credentials mean something to employers will support promotion, adding to that aspect of value. Otherwise, the focus of promotion has to be on those who can promote industrial engineers. Current efforts are so tightly focused on servicing members that IIE provides no effective benefits for those who might hire or promote individual IE’s.
Consider the potency of our previously-mentioned “Operator’s Manual” when given to prospective employers or business customers who buy the time or effort of an IIE member. A version of this manual for download and printing by any member can serve many uses, including the advertisement of the common skills of industrial engineers. The cost of providing these through a website is next to nothing, the promotion potential for IIE members can be substantial.
I would consider emailing an electronic version of this “Operator’s Manual” to either the personnel office or the local senior manager’s office in any organization that employs IIE members.
What else can you give to the employer to help him better use, or appreciate, his IE? Would a periodic thank-you or message of appreciation be in order? Would an IIE employer hotline be a justified support service?
Focus on Notoriety:
and credentials rely upon the notoriety of IIE, on the organization’s public
face and recognition. Maintaining and
increasing notoriety should be recognized as a major purpose for IIE activities. The organization needs to become an ongoing
and active contributor to every part of government that deals with performance
efficiency and engineering education or practice. It should be soliciting inputs from members
and submitting position papers like a
For perspective, read the introduction to Frederick Taylor’s landmark text on the Principles of Scientific Management. It starts out with public purpose as the original reason for the action that has lead to establishing the profession of Industrial Engineering.
IIE should be promoting IE’s through contacts with external management organizations. I would consider this as another use for the “Operator’s Manual.” The same could be useful as a handout for those graduating from business schools, especially MBA’s.
IIE might consider enhancing its employment support service where IE’s can post IE jobs and resumes. I might suggest providing generic job description text for use by employers. IIE can look for special support services to be provided to those who are seeking to employ IE’s, especially in light of promoting IIE members.
You should note that the activities that are addressed are not really that different than what IIE has done in the past. The difference is more in priority and in the intensity of focus on value for the individual member. The focus is different, being on the purpose for the existence and continuation of IIE as a viable entity, instead of looking at IIE as a stand-alone professional organization with a purpose of its own.
The Institute will provide valuable customer services to its members, including useful credentials, community and networking services, and promotion of its members as the highest-quality industrial engineers.
Proposed IIE Vision Statement
The Institute will assure maximum value in IIE membership through both promotions and restrictions. The Institute will provide a forum for passing information valued by industrial engineers, will provide unique opportunities for sharing and networking with other industrial engineers, and will provide for having member-expertise recognized. The Institute will pro-actively promote both industrial engineering and IIE members before all interested parties, both directly and through increase to the value of IIE credentials.
So how are these any better? They seem to say pretty much the same thing, and promote the same basic activities.
The difference is fundamental. The focus is on the customer and what the customer values, rather than on the administration and what it wants to accomplish. It isn’t that great a difference to those who work in the IIE organization, beyond having a much stronger statement of what they are to accomplish. The big difference will be seen by the members, who should expect to receive a considerably higher value.
And the cost? There is little question that there is going to be expense associated with the additional work. Someone is going to pay the bill. There will always be complaints about any increase in dues.
Members are going to pay the bill, no matter how big or small it may be. The difference is in receiving a much greater service for a few dollars more. What is it worth to have your private organization contact your boss with recommendations on how to get the most value from using your skills? How much is it worth to have your membership in IIE recognized for the challenging things that IIE has been able to accomplish through promoting its own members?
Would I, as a member, be willing to pay more for a membership that would have a recognized dollar value to employers? You bet I would!
What this approach really accomplishes is the use of investment logic to support IIE managers as they maximize delivery of value to members through their decisions.
What values should be generated at the chapter level? Can the delivery of these values be enhanced from the corporate level? Most networking will have to be local; should corporate management be doing something to actively support the rendering of this value? Should the generation of credentials be at the chapter or corporate level, or perhaps both depending on credentials sought?
How valuable is the use of chapter leadership to accomplish corporate communication with members? Is this type of channel of sufficient value to be supported, or simply directed? How should managerial communication be coordinated with the use of the organization’s journals?
Opportunities for maximizing efficiency and effectiveness through industrial engineering applications within IIE are there, and management engineering provides pointers to where a more focused approach is likely to be most productive.