in Process

Engineering-Design love-in

In GM’s Design Push Picks Up Speed David Welch profiles Bob Lutz’s struggle to balance the priorities of accounting, engineering and design in an enterprise. This bit pressed the clutch down in my brain:

One of the first things Lutz did on arriving in September, 2001, was push designers and engineers to stop fighting and start collaborating. Now, when the two sides butt heads, they get together in weekly meetings to hammer out their differences. “It isn’t a love-in,” says chief designer Ed Welburn. “But in the last two or three years the laws of physics have changed.”

Now I realize this is a huge company, and the projects run for years, but we all know from having done this work that once-a-week meetings doesn’t count as teamwork. At the Skunkworks for example draftsmen and engineers worked in ajoining rooms, close enough to shoot rubber bands at each other. This helps people generate ideas and sort out issues while in the synthesis frame of mind, rather than the review frame of mind. Hopefully GM’s weekly meetings are a step towards richer interaction.