We've all seen examples of "work toward perfection with total disregard to cost or schedule." Perhaps universities should require engineers to take a few more business courses, to help balance the engineer's natural tendency to make something the best that it can be.
I like ericha's comment about "Good, Fast, or Cheap, pick any 2." If engineers can learn to view every design as a multi-variable optimization problem -- particularly the variables of performance, schedule and cost -- then they will be less inclined to focus only on performance.
Good point @selinz. In addition to surfing the web or playing with their phones many engineers tend to work towards perfection with total disregard to cost or schedule. So the right balance is required. But imposing unrealistic schedules on design force in not helpful in my mind...dr Kris
While I can relate to the general bemone of meetings, there is an undeniable need to track people's progress. This is particularly true of many today's engineers that put a priority on listening to music, watching facebook, and playing with their phones (yes, texting to friends falls in the category of playing).
Chuck: I like your Zen like attitude! I wish you told me that years ago, for several years I continued to sweat about about schedule delays on the projects I was managing while I could had been meditating and contemplating complexities of IC design and life in general ;-)...dr Kris
In theory, a good manager can help a project to be completed faster. Obviously, a bad manager can do anything from cause delays to completely botch the project. But, there is a reason that some managers, like Kelly Johnson from the Lockheed Skunk works, are legendary for creating great products in short periods of time.
A good manager knows how to collect great engineers and foster cooperation and collaboration. A good manager knows how to remove roadblocks and find resources.
Good managers do exist. Unfortunately, many of the folks put in management positions think that the word "manager" = "control". It does not. Those that think that way do a log of damage and tend to be the ones that get talked about and remembered the most.
These frictions are a necessary evil I am afraid. I have been on both sides of the fence and understand each side's frustration. It helps to have managers with Engineering background but not that much :-)
During my career as a middle level manager, we were setting up the manufacturing line for the product which our R & D had developed, our Chairman felt that he himself could push this project on time. So he started working like our manager. You can imagine the daily tension at each level of the staff. The Chairman used to spend about 2 hours daily on the shop floor in meetings. Normally this used to be around lunch time. So every morning most of us managers would be busy in preparing for the meeting ( How to cover up the slippages and show that everything running on schedule) and post lunch on discussing the aftermath of Chairman's firing sessions. All in all this was very unproductive, demoralizing and stressful for all of us and resulted in the project being shelved within six months with a huge dead inventory lying as the mute witness of the disaster.
Government contractors were notorious for hiring ex-military for management positions. When our manager was transferred to corporate, in came an ex-Navy wing commander. His "Men..." pep talks drove the women engineers crazy and we knew we had to do something to keep him busy and out of our hair if we were going to get anything done. So we bought him an Apple Lisa (precursor to the Mac). He hardly ever left his office after that. Eventually though, his management style drove the entire department to leave the company.