Jake, a respected veteran engineer in a power generation plant, retired with great congratulations and accolades. A few months later the plant suffered a major malfunction—a real meltdown with all systems involved. The engineering staff could not quickly diagnose the problem so with due urgency they called Jake for an emergency consultation.
He surveyed the situation, checking the condition of some indicator lights and made a few measurements. He resolutely marched to a bank of gray electrical boxes, opened one and tapped on a relay. Instantly indicator lights signaled a status change and systems sprang back to life.
Jake submitted a bill for this very brief consultation—$500, a seemingly modest amount for the gravity of the situation. But a bean-counter in the office was not so impressed, and questioned the $500 charge for such short work. He asked for an itemized bill. The old-timer resubmitted a hand-written statement that read as follows:
My apologies to whomever I stole this story. I honestly can’t remember. It’s amusing and confirms the status and mystique of the guru with special knowledge and experience. We’d all like to imagine we could be Jake.
But what if he had done a better job of sharing his knowledge during his employment years? What if he had more thoroughly mentored and trained his junior colleagues? They would have known where to tap.
When I joined Burr-Brown 34 years ago after seven years of previous engineering experience, I was drawn to this company where knowledge sharing was so deeply ingrained in the culture. Experts generously shared their time with junior engineers. Everyone helped one another to advance the analog art. The chemistry of design reviews was scintillating. Multiple gurus would challenge and improve on one another’s ideas. It was hard-core analog but always with the best intent and good humor.
A culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration requires maintenance and tuning. People come and go. It requires real intent to sustain this culture. I hope that your company has it. If so, nurture it. If it’s waning, rebuild it. If it’s missing, start it.
With that, I say goodbye. I have plans for more grandfathering, bicycle riding and, to be honest, cleaning my garage. It’s been a privilege to have this forum over the past 15 months and 65 blogs. It was challenging. I found myself learning more about topics I thought I knew pretty well. It reminds me of what an old mentor told me—if you want to really learn something, teach it! (Thanks, Jerry.)
The Signal blogs will stay on this site forever (whatever forever may be in the web age). Watch for a new blog, the TI Precision Designs Hub, where you will hear from multiple experts in the area of analog and data conversion.
Thanks for reading and goodbye,
Bruce email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All The Signal blogs are listed here grouped generally by topic.
Thanks Kristina, Aimee. And special thanks to Grace Bauske, RIP.