close this bookVolume 1: No. 36
View the documentNews -- NSF
View the documentNews -- government
View the documentNews -- computer industry
View the documentNews -- Turing test
View the documentNews -- new bboards; journal calls
View the documentNews -- student/postdoc opportunities
View the documentNews -- job opportunities
View the documentDiscussion -- mail-order grants; job-seeking skills
View the documentDiscussion -- management; initiative
View the documentDiscussion -- teamwork; status; sex; marriage

Concurrent engineering is the simultaneous involvement of all parts of an organization (and even customers!) in the design of a product. Robert E. Cousins says that concurrent engineering used to be called common sense. He feels that the stress should be on teamwork rather than (or in addition to) methodologies that guarantee manufacturability of engineered designs. With teamwork, workers are willing to put forth their ideas, take risks, ask for help, and report failures. (Talk of religion, politics, or personal matters during breaks is a good sign of mutual trust and respect.) Workers respect each other's jobs, and communicate so that everyone knows what's going on. Managers are supportive, provide need information, and make sure everyone understands the "why" of the work. People can then "sign up" emotionally, and commit to achievement of group goals. [Computer, 11/91.]

A recent program about childhood showed teenagers playing baseball and other team sports. In some cases, grownups provided the structure. In others, the kids had to create the rules and convince others to stay in the game. I began to see this as management training. Organized sports follow an authoritarian, corporate model; sandlot ball is collegial and entrepreneurial. Organized sports focus on scoring against opponents; sandlot ball on "winning" by keeping the game going.

As the program moved into adolescent sexuality, I saw that the same distinction applied to sex. The organized-sport model corresponds to "scoring" through imposing one person's will on another. (Date rape -- what an analogy!) Sandlot ball is more like consenting sex, where people negotiate toward a common goal and cooperate to achieve it.

Whatever you want to accomplish, you can do more if you enlist the help of others. People who can lead, charismatic people who can entrain followers, have a multiplicative or exponential advantage. [An uninspired bureaucracy is more like n log n.] It's easy to see why our species might react to leadership and romantic conquests as signs of status and potential -- to be either admired or envied and resented by others.

The subject is unlikely to come up again, so I'll have a go at the age-old question, "What do women want?" A woman wants a man who is interested in her, but that's not enough. Traditional [or cliche?] women want three things above all: competence, potential, and malleability. A woman looks for a man who is competent in dealing with the world, and who has potential to develop new skills. She further wants a man that she can [somewhat publicly] mold and influence, so that his successes become her successes. A captain of the basketball team has demonstrable competence, but a loner can compensate with potential and malleability. Romance (e.g., opening doors, composing sonnets, giving cut flowers) tests both interest and malleability, the willingness to cater in public to your beloved's whims.

OK, I left out honesty and sensitivity, good looks, wealth, experience, social skills, career prospects, etc. Help me out and I may ship version 2.0 within a decade. Just don't ask me what men want.

-- Ken