Looking for an audiobook to listen to on your morning commute or late afternoon run? You might want to choose the new book from IEEE-USA, Process Skills: The Key To Success by Harry T. Roman. Roman draws on his decades of experience in the energy field, as well as his extensive efforts outside of work, to lay out the advantages of taking “charge of maintaining and growing your skills bank.”
Roman notes that technical skills are easily replaceable by employers, but engineers with process skills are rarer. Further, he emphasizes process skills in the workforce are critical for a company staying strategically competitive in the global marketplace.
The author stresses the value for the younger emploee of developing written and spoken communications skills, noting that the first way you are likely to be noticed (positively or negatively) by higher ups is through your writing. In contrast, your speaking opportunities will be less frequent and shorter, but you need to know how to make a point concisely and powerfully to take advantage of such occurrences. His advice: “Polish your written reports, and practice giving oral presentations — as often as you can.”
Roman points out that only about two percent of patents issued are successful in the marketplace. He attributes the failures mainly to breakdowns in process, such as failing to successfully hand a project off between departments; bad communications between departments or team members; or lack of understanding of the marketplace.
In this audiobook, Roman makes the bold statement that “in fifty years as an engineer, I have never seen an engineer fired because they were technically incompetent — but I have seen them fired for poor communication skills; not knowing when to manage; or having ineffective project management skills.”
He strongly urges readers to take advantage of training opportunities. If a manager, the author stresses continuing to build education and training into budgets. Roman notes that an important part of training is bringing lessons learned back to the company. He suggests first writing down what you have learned, and how it creates value for your company; then sharing this information widely throughout your organization. Roman also points out “writing down the bones” is another good way to make a strong case for next year’s training budget.
The author also points to using IEEE membership to illustrate how you can maximize training — not only by listing your membership on your resume — but also by serving on relevant committees networking with others, and reporting what you learn in IEEE courses and seminars.
Roman gives three examples from his life that illustrate how mastering process skills can lead to success. In one, he outlines how he established an Applied Robotics Testing Lab where robot prototype designs could be tested, modified, re-designed and demonstrated. In the second, Roman discusses how he applied skills he developed in the energy sector — applying them when serving as commissioner for the local water commission. For his final example, he discusses how his work with the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and Edison Foundation helped him develop new ways to help educate others about Edison.
The author points out that Thomas Edison may have been the greatest American Inventor (with more than a thousand domestic patents, and an even greater number of international ones) — but that “his most important work was not a physical manifestation or product, but a process — the concept of an invention factory, which later became R&D Labs.”
The audiobook, Process Skills: The Keys To Success, along with the companion e-book is available for free for all IEEE members at IEEE-USA’s shop. Non-members pay $2.99 for the e-book. While there, check out the Roman’s other audiobooks, or those by other IEEE authors.
Harry T. Roman holds 12 U.S. Patents and has received numerous engineering, invention and teaching awards. He has published more than 550 scientific papers, articles, monographs and books. He received an IEEE Meritorious Achievement Award for developing continuing education products, as well as an IEEE Outstanding Engineer award. Roman worked for 36 years in energy R&D; and he has taught graduate-level R&D project management courses at the New Jersey Institute of Technology [NJIT]. Throughout his engineering career, Roman has worked with schools around the state, bringing the excitement of real-world problem-solving to the classroom.