Re: Profesinalism/anybody can do the job/et cetera

Subject: Re: Profesinalism/anybody can do the job/et cetera
From: "L. H. Garlinghouse" <garlinghou -at- WATERLOOINDUSTRIES -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 16:00:44 -0600

> From: Keith Arnett <keith_arnett -at- RESTON -dot- OMD -dot- STERLING -dot- COM>

Some thoughts from the fringes of TW and the trenches of
manufacturing. Keith says:

> Americans, being enamored of technology, regard technologists with
> high esteem; doctors, engineers, astronauts, pilots and other
> perceived masters of technology are given high status by American
> society, and are recompensed accordingly.

I would be very surprised if TW's are going to be painted with a
different brush than engineers, for example. Keith's statement
is inline with conventional wisdom, but at odds, (IMHO) with reality.
Around 1994 or so, "Machine Design" (or some such magazine) had a
series of editorials that were largely substantiated by the
readership. A key point was there was not then, nor was there
even close to then, a shortage of engineers. There was, perhaps, a
shortage of engineers that would work for what was being offered.
In one of these issues, it was pointed out in an article on
headhunting, that 96% of technical folks loosing their jobs lost
them for reasons not connected with their technical competence.

I have worked for several sucessful manufacturers - the kind that
advertise on prime time television - and I am always amazed at the
number of people with the title of "engineer" that do not have the
education to go along with it, nor even a "certification" of some
sort. The point is that in the rush to cut costs, save $$$, it is
common practice to give people titles instead of pay to fill slots
that need to be filled. The issues of suboptimization and the long
term costs are not even considered or discussed. Bear in mind that
disciplines like industrial and manufacturing engineering are hardly
new, not fully understood disciplines.
> It seems to me we are nibbling at the edges of what is essentially a
> social (and possibly essentially American) issue: how does society
> value particular types of work?
You are talking about a society with a large segement that
stills "sees" Elvis; has Hulk Hogan, Dennis Rodman paid vast amounts
of $$$ and exposure; and considers folks who can read and write at
the 8th grade (U.S.) level as "mainstream"? I know too well already
how engineers, TW's and others are valued. Spare me.
From M. Baldwin of this list: " Maybe professionalism is "excellence
in the face of ignorance." Just a thought. - Marilyn Baldwin
I think that is really closer to reality. It really isn't related to
whether anyone at your workplace understands or appreciates what you
do. Cowboys ride for other cowboys. Writers write for other

If you are lucky, your boss understands what you do, nuances and all.
Chances are s/he does not. The personnel wonk that hired you
probably does not. That is where profesional certification comes in.
It validates your claim to being a tech. professional.
Makes it easy for the personnel wonk to choose you over someone else.
(I am willing to wait for the scheduled war on this mentioned in
another post - June was it?)

Strike up a conversation with some Quality folks. You will probably
find that they have a similar world view to yours and many of the
same concerns. Another issue touched on in this thread is an
attempted compartimentalization of TW's. TW's do this, but not
that. The general movement of business culture is "no boxes, move
the skills to the lowest level possible." What I have picked up on
is that many TW's do work that I had associated with InfoServices
folks. Being on the leading edge it is clear that a TW/TC must be
doing work that was the domain of the IS wonk a few years back.

Bottom line, if management can do without you, or cover you more
cheaply (assessed on a quarterly basis) then they will. Most
doubtful that TW/TC's will see any more glory, appreciation and pay
than they have now. Not that that is fair, reasonable nor even
sensible. But there are a lot of other tech. professionals that have
the same concerns and are a bit ahead on the downhill slide.

If you've read this far, thank you. Clearly you ARE a professional..

<< All opinions, statements, &c are my own>>
L.H. Garlinghouse, C.Q.E.
Pocahontas AR U.S.A.
(870) 892-4586 ext 7659
garlinghou -at- waterlooindustries -dot- com

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