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Apr 16, 2010
@Gardener1: Love the remark, sometimes it does feel like that, especially when situations appear to me so obvious...

However, as much as a consultant may appear useless when confirming what you already know, he does it from an unbiased, exterior point of view, and that makes his services valuable.

As you may have guessed by now, *I* am a consultant as well, been one for the past 15 years, after more than 20 years prior working my ass off in my industry just like Dilbert... One of the reasons this strip reaches me so well!

Now, if only I could get a cool secretary like Carol... :D
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Apr 15, 2010
When I started as a consultant, I was given this advice: A consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time!
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Feb 1, 2010
WOW. BatarangForce, a very powerful and moving post indeed. I am one of those pious, condescending ,know-it-all engineers of which you speak. I also have an MBA, so maybe have an unfair advantage over the majority, because I have basic understanding of how "stuff" works and how companies work.
While I agree that companies are for the most part, 3 legged stools, each relying on one another to remain balanced and serving the customer, your analysis has some flaws.
Your analysis is basically the same as the engineers which you are deriding. That some leg of the stool is more important than another. Ideally this is untrue. In the corporate world unfortunately we tend to "value" certain positions ahead of others in monetary compensation, but truly without each member of a team, the stool falls down. Sales has nothing to sell without engineers, can't collect a PO without accounting, and would spend all of his day fixing problems instead of selling if it weren't for customer service. The cleaning lady is a tough arguement, as they are outsourced and not integral to the operation of the company, they are more like infrastucture, buildings, vehicles, etc...
I do not have a problem with a salesperson making very high income, when their compensation is soley tied to performance, but more often than not, we do not properly define performance. I have been in techincal sales for 10 years, and I have seen first hand saleman get "creative" with their explainations of how things will benefit end users, discount to elvels that are unhealthy for the company just to make a sale, or blame other parts of the organization for something they mis-represented or inaccurately ordered. So there is plenty of blame to go around. The core issue is compensating people on customer-centric performance. Identify if that person interacts with internal or external customers, and incentivize them in a way that gives them opportunity for increased income based on performance. With this, management becomes critical. Many say that your cost structure would be too variable and it will escalate your payroll. Not true, but you will have, like in just about everything, a bell curve of performance and compensation, and you need to manage the mean to the previous "fixed cost" average you had in the past. Ideally, if managed properly, your average compensation will rise, but the performance, sales, cust sat would all be rising in relation to that, so your company would be prospering based on this model.
By arbitrarily assigning higher overall values to different employess groups, one creates the silos, where companies internally do not work together, because of jealousy, misunderstanding and the elitism found in most executive suites.
Creating a corporation that values its employees, and nurtures their individual contributions will create value in the process, that often diminishes the perceived or real differences in compensations.

Just a thought, why not try to understand why an engineer has designed something before crapping all over it. He probably had customer feedback, had a plan for the ideal solution, and when presented ot management they told him it wasn't homogenous with the rest of the product line, we need to value engineer out cost, and optimize it for contract manufacturing.
Engineers can do for $.10 what the avergae person can do for a $1. But given other constraints, you often still end up with a piece of crap is the organization as a whole doesn't embrace and understand the end goal.
Jan 17, 2010
I apologize for the long post.

BlueSky111 said - "Actually, we can quantify the value of R&D work, as follows:
- 100% of the research work is done by engineers
- 100% of the development work is done by engineers
- 20% of the profit money goes to top execs and VPs as bonuses and (very) incentive stock options, for they endlessly "manage expectations"
- 20% of the money goes to sales guys as bonuses and perks
- 20% of the money goes to marketing guys as bonuses, field trips, and something very obscure called "market research" (i.e. trying to find the biggest market segment of suckers to buy your product)
- 30% of the money goes to consultants, who charge you for the obvious, disguised with the relevant buzzwords.
- 8% of the money goes to administrative expenses (including non-monetary awards to engineers, and miscellaneous bathroom equipment...)
- The last 2 % are the average engineer's annual raise.

So Dilbert should not complain, since he's achieving a 2% annual return... "

It sounds like you believe that engineers are under appreciated and not compensated proportional to their value. Am I wrong? Not to appear combative, but I consistently find people in key roles thinking that they are somehow unique, special… even invaluable.

Looking at each of your statements
“100% of the research/developmen is done by engineers” – yet customers are still victim of built in obsolescence as engineers continue to create products that either are inferior in design, don’t work to standards the way customers would like or are just ridiculous. The average VCR and TV remote are just but few examples of items that have confounded people to no end. Have you ever attempted to use a Comcast cable remote with a Toshiba dvd player to operate a Sony TV for you mother who wants to watch the Golden Girls dvds you gave her for Christmas? Three college science degrees were called upon, along with the users manual before we gave up and called Customer Support… the branch of he company that does Mop Up for problems the engineers have created.

“20% of the profit money goes to top execs and VPs” – Yes, it is they (we) who run the ship. It is us who make the deals with Japan and Houston, but hookers for the VPs at other companies and “create and leverage synergy” for the “win-win” scenario so that the rest of the people can keep their jobs. It requires schmoozing, knowing numbers, being innovative and having the capability to skirt the law, put out a competitive product that actually has “value-add” all while still making a profit. It also requires keeping an eye on competitors, forecasting, creating jobs, firing ballast and everything else that’s involved in running a company that engineers, such as yourself, never learned in Mechanical Engineering 201. Perhaps… in your world, corporations should be run by engineers. Have you ever spoken with another engineer? It’s painful. Engineers, via stereotype, are arrogant, condescending, pious, pompous, know-it-alls with a superior sense of self, and their paychecks don’t suck. This is primarily re: computer engineers.

“20% of the money goes to sales guys” – Who have to sell your POS products that you built while never bothering to actually talk to customers in the first place. Which reminds me, did you see the Comcast commercial with the focus group? One guy is collecting opinions from customers and you have the technician in the background working on the monitor. After everyone gives their opinion, he looks up and says, “why are we asking customers what they think? …. Seems kinda dumb.” Or something to that effect. Hilarious. Here is something that most people in a corporation don’t understand. The only job that brings in money is “the sales guy!” That’s it. Not accounting, not customer service and not engineers. It’s Sales.

“30% of the money goes to consultants” – No argument there, other than 30% is way too high and that consultants are there to be paid to confirm what you already suspected and if you’re lucky, will provide one piece of data that you weren’t aware of that might help out in the whole process, but only if you ask the right questions.

So, please, try to respect all of the components of a company, including Customer Service, Accounting and every other branch that gets under appreciated. And the next time you consider complaining about your pay, consider the Mexican cleaning lady who comes in every day and weekends only to work for 50 cents over minimum wage and still has to feed 3 kids.

Engineers are essential, but you’re not as special as you think you are.
Jan 12, 2010
@ Old_Faithful: Right on. America is gonna be in so much trouble for the future to come. All that is produced has been outsourced to China. Engineers are more and more harder to find, less kids study it these days. Who´s gonna develop the upcoming promising products? India? Brazil?
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