Be Ready to Change Roles

Jeremy Jeffress of the Milwaukee Brewers warms up in the bullpen at AT&T Park in San Francisco while bullpen coach Lee Tunnell (right) looks on. Courtesy of Wikimedia/Ben Voigtschild.

One of the common threads in the origin stories we have posted is the frequency with which the person had to change roles. Specialization is for insects, in my humble opinion. Very few people are happy staying in a single job title for long periods of time.

My Milwaukee Brewers shocked the baseball world last season with their unconventional use of pitchers –or as they re-named them, out makers. The strategy of always having “fresh arms” on the mound worked pretty well until they ran out of arms in a long series. I suspect other teams will be experimenting with similar ideas this year as a reflection of the scarcity of truly great pitchers.

The same thing happens in manufacturing organizations too. While there are no salary caps to interfere with hiring new talent, it is very clear that there are not many “superstars” casting about for new teams at any one time. Smart executives need to find ways to get the good “players” already on their rosters more involved in their plans and projects.

I have always been a utility player; as an apprentice I gave plant tours, bartended at retirement parties, audited purchase orders, conducted foundry experiments, and expedited sailboat parts for the company president. At every stop in my career, a willingness to step out of my comfort zone helped us get things done.

Not many engineers want to build the company’s trade show booth. Fewer yet want to design heat treat equipment, modify machine tools, manage a quality control department, take responsibility for estimating, organize sales meetings, or supervise a major facilities overhaul. Looking back, however, those “temporary assignments” enriched my life, expanded my world view, and prepared me for even more interesting adventures.

While Gear Technology is primarily thought of as an engineering publication, our readers are multi-dimensional people. What have been some of your best “non-gear” projects?

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.