The XYZ’s of Managing

There are three methods of managing employees called the XYZ Methods. Both method X and method Y were defined by Douglas McGregor. The more recent method, Z, was defined by William Ouchi. Ouchi combined the Japanese method of managing with Douglas’s Y method to form the Z method.

Method X is probably the stereotypical management technique. When most people think of a “boss” they think of someone who is very strict and controlling. Method X includes setting strict rules and enforcing harsh punishments. The X method includes many assumptions that can be either true or false. One assumption is that workers hate their job. This type of manager believes that the only reason that someone is working for them is because they need a source of income. Workers couldn’t care less about the company or their job tasks, just as long as they’re getting paid. Because of this, a X manager thinks that they have to force people to work with strict rules and punishments. Secondly, the X method sees workers as numbers, not people. Loyalty has little value to a X manager. Seeing workers as inanimate objects allows X managers to fire people with little hesitation. Last, the X method believes workers have no direction and no decision making abilities. An X manager will constantly give a work objectives and orders in hopes of keeping them on track.

Alphabetically method Y is next. A Y manager is not your stereotypical boss. A Y manager believes that their workers truly enjoy their job, outside of monetary reasons. The Y method assumes that their workers chose the career that they’re in because it is interesting and exciting to them. The Y method also encourages others to have input at meetings and decision because their opinion is valuable. A manager looks at their employees as an equal with a Y method. Workers are not necessarily interested in the success of the company, but more in personal fulfillment. People do the job because they love it, and are skilled at it.

Finally, Z is the last of the XYZ Methods. A Z Manager values his/her workers above all. Loyality is of high respect. With the Z method, managers put a tremendous amount of trust and freedom in their workers. A company ran with a Z method works completely as a team. Everyone contributes to the progress of the company and everyone strives for success personally and for the company. Within a Z company, workers are known for staying with the company for a long period of their life, if not all of their career.

So the XYZ Methods differ in my opinion in one major aspect; the worker’s assumed attitude. With the X method, workers hate their job and the company and just are looking for a pay check. The Y method assumes that workers love their jobs while the Z assumes the workers love their company. Honestly I think that these different types of management only work if the assumption is correct and neither method is superior because workers attitudes vary. It seems to me that the culture or specific person determines which method is naturally more efficient. For example in Japan, people honor hard work and loyalty, so obviously the Z method works best there. In an artistic environment, the Y method would prevail because artists love what they do but do not necessarily care about a business. With a minimum wage based business, the X managing method is probably more useful because the workers generally do not enjoy their job nor the establishment. But then again, it all depends on the worker. The human variable is not something a mathematical equation can explain or predict. In the end, it just depends on the workers attitude, whether you can change their attitudes is a different story.


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Tom Kelley

tomkelleyTom Kelley covered a tremendous amount of points and ideas of his to success during his speech at Stanford University. His speech composed his Five Good Habits to have as well as a parting point on how to figure out what you want to do in your life.

He started off by telling a story about how the older grade school students got, the less likely they were to consider themselves artists. He emphasizes that it is really important to stay creative from childhood and continue to think differently, even if others disapprove. He says that being an artist means to be an innovator and to be a thinker. The greatest ideas come from those who are unique and don’t think like the rest of society. Creativity is a valuable lesson taught to younger students and it is a good idea to hold on to those inner desires to be different and carry that trait into the workplace.

Tom Kelley then began to introduce his five good habits. He believes that starting “good habits” mentally and behaviorally can be extremely helpful. First of the behavioral/mental habits of his is to “think like a traveler.” He explain the idea that, the same way travelers are alert and focused in new areas, people should be in everyday life. Having a higher state of awareness will allow you to generate ideas and to capture them. Once you have sparked an idea, Kelley says it’s important to write down the ideas to make sure you don’t forget them.

The next “good habit” Kelly shares is to “see with different eyes” or to “observe with fresh eyes.” Either title explains that it is extremely important to stay fresh and unbiased in your ideas. People of the past have already established their thoughts and reasoning. It can be very valuable to temporally wipe your mind of their past works and to see things differently. Even the most simplest of situations can be revolutionized.

The next habit Kelley describes is my personal favorite of his list of five. His third beneficial habit is “Treat Life as an Experiment.” In an experiment, things do not happen as hoped or desired. Theories have been crushed and studies have been deemed inconclusive. The reason for experimentation is to test ideas before they are implemented and are fully committed to.  Failures in an experiment are not devastating by any means which allows them to be useful in science. Kelley saw this benefit of safe testing and believes one should live their life as an experiment. Many people are raised on the belief that once you start something you should finish it. But this notion hinders many people from trying new things and taking a little bit of risks of failure. Tom Kelley explains that one should experiment with an idea and test it out first before committing large sums of time and capital into it. If failures occur, reevaluate the situation and try a different approach.

            The next area of good habits Kelley describes is having an “Attitude of Wisdom.” He states that people should be confident in their knowledge and trust their training. But at the same time, people should be uncertain enough to realize that there is many more ideas and someday your knowledge might need to be updated. The world is ever changing and improving, so keeping up with new discoveries is vital to success. No one in the world knows everything, and the ones who know plenty and also seek even more knowledge are the ones who will become wise.

The final habit that Tom Kelley gives us is to use your “whole brain.” Many people have become very skilled and sharp with thought processes in their left brain. The left brain is more analytical and tactile in the sense of math and sciences where there is fine line between right and wrong. Tom states that creativity comes from the right side of our brains and the people who can think differently are the ones who have trained their right sides to be effective. The right side of the human brain tends to be more intuitive and understanding of the big picture which is very important in most aspects of business. Another part of using your entire brain is what he calls “using your tortoise mind.” Using your tortoise mind means to contemplate in depth ideas and to understand all aspects of the situation. The tortoise mind is the mind that creates the epiphanies so famously spoke of.

While not a habit, Tom Kelley does bring up some great advice towards the end of his speech on how to determine what to do with your life. First, he says to find something you love. When you love something you tend to put much more time and effort because you enjoy it. Secondly, find something you are born to do. Yes people are good at a lot of things but it is important to try to find that one thing that you are really passionate about. Last, do something that someone else will pay you to do. Many idealistic people believe money will always follow but that is honestly not always the case. It will become hard to do something when you cannot seem to pay the bills every month.

Tom Kelley really had some interesting points in his speech at Stanford. Many of his ideas, advice, and beliefs I could relate with and appreciate. I strongly believe that almost every single person that is successful in their careers has similar beliefs and has mastered the skills. It seems to always be a never ending task to be successful in your career but I believe that ideas such as the ones Kelley gave us are what make the difference.

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Old School

Sketching with a pencil and paper is an underrated way to develop designs. Sketching is very quick (if you’re skilled) and is a great way to brainstorm ideas. Computer-aided Designing (CAD) is a more developed method of using computers to create the image. In my opinion, CAD shouldn’t be used until a sketch is made. If every single idea was created on CAD, the design process would become very slow and inefficient. Sketching is probably the most prehistoric method but it is the foundation to our design process. Levent Kara at the Carnegie Mellon Department of Mechanical Engineering describes sketching very well,

“Sketches also serve an important role as a problem solving tool, both by aiding short term memory and by helping to make abstract problems more concrete. They compactly and efficiently represent various kinds of relationships, such as functional, temporal and geometric relationships which are often too difficult to communicate by plain text. In many disciplines, sketches provide a medium for visualizing new concepts, critiquing existing ideas and nurturing new ones, recording elusive thoughts, emphasizing key points and communicating information with other people. In the realm of engineering and architecture, sketches greatly facilitate conceptual design activities by freeing the designer from worrying about intricate details such as precise size, shape, location and color, and instead enabling him or her to focus on more critical issues that require creativity and abstraction. Due to their minimalist nature, i.e. articulating only what is necessary, they enhance collaboration and communication efficiency.”

Manual drawing will never go away and is critical to designing in every product. Early sketching helps engineers incorporate many methods of designing such as bio-designing and appealing to the customers emotions (covered in earlier blogs). Sketching keeps the early designing process simple, quick, and cheap.

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Engineering Meets Boring Law Stuff

Some people don’t understand why we have patents. Some people are enraged that some designer drugs are thousands of dollars and some people believe copyright laws are really annoying and unnecessary. The answer to all these beliefs and misunderstandings, in economics language, is incentive.

Patents basically create a legal monopoly for a limited amount of time. What patents do is allow someone or some company have exclusive rights to a specific, unique and useful design. Patents create an incentive for a company to spend millions of dollars in research, in hopes of obtaining wealth. When a company creates a new product or design they are the only ones allowed to produce it. Without patents, other companies can steal the new technology and produce it for cheaper because they didn’t spend the millions in research. This idea spurs argument in products such as designer drugs because the drugs are usually extremely expensive and prevent some patients from using them. People have to understand that without patents, the drug company would’ve never spent the millions and sometimes billions of dollars developing the drug.

Engineers need to understand the benefits of patents and also the rules. First of all, engineers should know that their design will be theirs (or the company’s due to contracts) and no one can ever steal it. Secondly, engineers should know that other patents exist, so checking to make sure previous ideas are not being accidently copied is a must. Huge lawsuits can erupt once designs are copies and companies can face millions in fines. An example of this is the lawsuits between Apple and Samsung. Samsung produces many of the iPhone’s components and since they knew how to build them, they decided to use the technology for their own smartphones. Of course Apple sued because it was their unique design that Samsung was illegally using. Without patents, people’s cherished iPhones wouldn’t exist because there would have been no reward for Apple to make such product.

Law matters are dry, dull, and boring, from an engineer’s prospective anyways. Many laws seem annoying and unnecessary, but in fact they usually are just trying to protect us. Engineers should all be familiar with the basics of law and of business in general. After all, being an engineer is just a business of developing ideas and designs.


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Future Tension

Today Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC Countries) are booming in modernization and economic growth. Each country is increasing their industries, technology, and their military. As these new countries grow to power, they have more say in what goes on in and around their country. China is the biggest of the BRIC Countries in terms of population, military, industry and many other categories. With the growth of China comes the tension between China and its surrounding countries. For example, China has sea water claims that overlap with Vietnam and Malaysia. In response to all of this growing tension, President Obama has issued the construction of 3 new naval vessels to help maintain order.

The new ships are called Zumwalt-class ships and they’ll be the biggest and heaviest destroyers ever built by the US Navy. A Zumwalt-class ship is made to surprise with its electric engines and its low lying hull. The new destroyer is armed with missiles, advanced sonar, and 155mm deck guns. The Zumwalt-class ships are so automated that they need half as many sailors onboard as current destroyers in the US Navy. With all of its sophistication the price of a Zumwalt runs about $7 billion, after research is included in.

The designers of this marvel designed with the future in mind and allowed the ship to be readily equipped with a railgun. A railgun is a prototype weapon that uses electromagnets to propel rounds as opposed to traditional explosives. The ballistics fired from railguns travel many times faster than the speed of sound. Therefore, explosive rounds are not needed in railgun technology because of the immense amount of energy they have (Kinetic Energy = ½mv^2). Designers should always look into the future. Without planning ahead, the new designs could become obsolete within a few years. For example, bridges must be built to withstand not only current weights of tractor-trailers but also the ones in the near future. A few years ago, 18-wheelers weren’t as heavy as they are now. If engineers didn’t plan ahead, we would have to replace thousands of bridges.

The future must be taken into consideration when making any sort of decision. The engineers of the Zumwalt tried to predict the future and so is President Obama. Nothing in the world is for certain but with common trends and past historical events, the future can be more accurately predicted. People have to stay one step ahead to remain competitive, both in world affairs and in designs.

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Nature’s Secret – Free Energy

There’s a great website called Grand Challenges for Engineering that lists big problems in our current world. The website allows for people to post new issues they believe need to be solved and also allows people to collaborate together about ways to approach the challenges. The challenge that most sparks my interest the most is, “Making Solar Power Economical.”

Every day, the demand for energy increases globally. With the increasing population and advancing technologies, our thirst for energy grows exponentially. Coal, oil, and natural gas are the leaders in energy production, generating 85% of the world’s energy demand. While there is some debate of how long the fossil fuels will last, we all agree the amount is finite and with a growing demand, the amounts only diminish even faster. Methods of creating power using renewable resources will become more and more important as the prices of fuel rise.

Our sun constantly is sending us huge amounts of energy in the form of light, UV rays, and other rays of the electromagnetic spectrum. Naturally, it is completely logical to want to harness a fraction of this immense energy. Today, there are ways to collect some of this energy, mainly solar panels. But solar panel technology is still in the makings and is not efficient enough to be “economical.” Solar panels are generally able to capture 18% of the energy from the sun’s rays. As you can probably tell the low efficiency of solar panels keeps them from expanding into the market. Engineers of all disciplines need to research methods of improving solar energy.

In my opinion studying plants, bacteria, fungus, and other species that harness sun light, will spark many ideas of new solar power methods. The concept as stated in an earlier blog is Biomimetic Designing, designing products by “copying” things in nature. Plants and bacteria are very good at converting solar energy into chemical energy and  I believe that we can use their methods. The technology is already in nature, it is just our jobs to discover it.  If we can effectively capture the sun’s energy we can solve countless problems. Everything from air pollution to high gas prices will dissolve once solar panels are improved.

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Safe Designs

While there is a lot of economics and complicated business methods involved, the basic goal of a company is to produce a product that is it sold at the highest price and produced at the lowest price possible. The companies that can best do this are usually the most profitable.

In order to create cheaper products, companies tend to take shortcuts. Most of the time these shortcuts are a good idea, such as using a cheaper materials that doesn’t affect the overall quality of the product. Other times the shortcuts go too far such as poor factory working conditions or subpar product durability. Cutting costs is where costly issues can arise, especially in safety.

Poor quality products and bad designs can fail and harm the customers. Products today have to be safe in every sense. The smallest cost-cutting action can cause huge damages and potentially create millions of dollars in losses. When products fail companies are faced with recalls, lawsuits, and lost customers. Recalls and lawsuits cost millions of dollars to settle and lost customers will cost huge sums of lost profits as well. On example of an unsafe design is the structure failure with the Architect Firm PBNDML. A last minute design change caused the whole floor to fall, killing 144 people and injuring 200. The design might not have been changed to cut costs but it definitely wasn’t thoroughly considered and caused huge losses. The whole company went under and the engineers lost their licenses.

The solution is just to create checks and evaluations methods before going through with a product. Product testing is very cost effective in eliminating future costs. Cutting costs is a good idea, it saves money for both parties, both the producer and the customer. Eliminating costs just have to be done safely and sensibly.  Every design made has to be safe. For people to continue to buy the product and for future costs to be eliminated the design needs to be carefully evaluated my many people before production.

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Google’s New Specs

Technology is changing the way we live our everyday life. Cars, TVs, smartphones, and everything else are a huge part of our lives. The new technology is almost always beneficial and will help make people’s lives easier and more convenient. The best example of this is smartphones.  Smartphones can do incredible amounts of functions from web browsing, texting, games, music, calling, and aps. Aps allow the phone to basically have unlimited abilities. But actually using a smartphone can be a hassle if you’re in holding other things or in a hurry. There are still added difficulties and new inconveniences that come with them. Google has taken a step forward in simplifying our lives with Project Glass.

Project Glass is a new concept of integrating a smartphone with eye glasses. What Google has done is created a hands-free way of using the phone, texting, checking the weather, take pictures, and many more. Project Glass allows people to go about their busy day without having to take their phone out of their pocket for minor things. As Google puts it, “technology should work for you – to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.”

The whole device is operated by voice command. The glass on the glasses acts like a screen and will show pictures and images. The new glasses have a camera inform to let others see what you are and has a microphone and speaker to call people.

In my opinion the design should be a little less futuristic. Google should make the appearance to appear more like actual glasses and not something out of Star Wars or an Apache helicopter.  I think they could allow people to get prescription lens to wear as actual corrective lens but also have the side piece for the display. Google doesn’t mention how long the battery last on this prototype but I wouldn’t imagine very long considering the size. I really like the idea and I believe Google could sell many products with some minor realistic  changes.

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Weighing Things Out – Ethical Swamp

In my previous blog, I mentioned the importance of ethical designing. An ethical design eliminates immoral aspects of producing, using, and disposing of a product. While I strongly believe we should all try to be as moral as possible, I will also say that you can’t win them all.

All negatives of a design should be taken into account. The “Ethical Swamp” to me is very important to consider. The “Ethical Swamp” is admitting that nothing is perfect. Every design engineers come up with will have drawbacks, the key is magnitude and quantity. The product can’t have really large damaging issues and they shouldn’t create a large amount of problems. The idea is summed up in the old saying, “Do the ends justify the means.” This saying may seem insensitive but the saying is merely weighing the options.   

The main objective of the “Ethical Swamp” is to just weigh everything out. If a design has huge ethical repercussions then the design shouldn’t be pursued. Similarity, if a design creates more problems than it solves then that design also should not be followed through.  Designs will create more problems no matter what measures are done to avoid them. But even though a design will create problems it might solve bigger ones. Like I said earlier, you have to weigh things out.

Richard Devon - 


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So you’re sitting in heavy traffic on a major interstate highway. After a violent car accident, due to the traffic your car hasn’t move 10 yards in 30 minutes. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to press a button and fly above it all? Crazy, I know, but we’ve all been there and someone is taking a leap forward in flying cars.

Dutch company, PAL-V Europe NV, has developed something straight out of Transformers (minus the aliens and guns). The new experimental aircraft/car/motorcycle is simply named the PAL-V. The PAL-V knows no limits. This technologically advanced prototype combines the handling capabilities of a sports car with the flying abilities of a helicopter. PAL-V Europe NV claims to have made a flying car but really is a three-wheeled motorcycle with a propeller (but hey that works for me). The interior looks a lot like a cockpit of a helicopter but the exterior looks like a strange bubbly economy car.  

The PAL-V actually gets around 28mpg highway and has two seats so that’s comparable with a sports car, but with half the acceleration. Taking less than 10min, the PAL-V can morph into a flying aircraft with top speeds of 112 mph. The PAL-V is intended to operate less than 4,000 ft., in the uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) air traffic area. Currently the plan to develop GPS powered “digital freeways” to provide safe flying between other aircrafts.

The PAL-V is still in the making and probably isn’t the most practical vehicle to own. Personally I believe this concept of land and air vehicles can be used in the military in some fashion, possibly with jet engines. I don’t foresee everyday people owning PAL-Vs in the near future, the laws in the US and Europe would really slow down the process of producing this for sale. I think there is huge potential with this concept though. The PAL-V could be redesigned to look more ”car-like” or maybe it could be more luxurious to appeal to the wealthier society.  The design itself is very new and there is nowhere to go but up with flying cars.


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