As most of you likely know, I was recently interviewed by reporter Bill Thomson from the industry journal, AFI International. It wasn’t one of my usual interviews focusing on usage of new component form factors, general design for manufacturing, or PC board layout best practices. Rather, it was a more personal set of questions related to life inside Screaming Circuits. The reporter really wanted to know what makes us and our customers tick. So, I’m departing from my typical blog subject matter to, with permission, reproduce five of the most relevant questions from the interview, with corresponding answers.
Q: Screaming Circuits seems to understand a bit of the vernacular of the engineering world, but I don’t. I don’t think it’s me, so it must be engineers. Why can’t I understand them?
A: Good question Kelvin.This is not a new phenomena. I have personally studied the language of the engineer for many years now, sometimes even venturing directly into their dangerous habitat. I’ve determined that there is one key motivation at work here: engineers don’t want to communicate outside of their own kind.
In order to maintain an appropriate level of mystique, they use words and phrases like phase-locked femtofarad, metastable dinner table, angstromonger a little longer, non-linear twist angled linearity, and 47 puff. If they didn’t do so, engineering might not seem so intimidating. More people would then choose engineering as a career, and who needs more job competition?
Even more convincing is that the likelihood of needing to personally interface with another human being increases exponentially by a factor of the number of people in the field. They work hard to make it sound like engineering is much more difficult than it really is to keep that factor, and the corresponding chance of having to talk, at a minimum.
A: That’s a very good question Kelvin. I’m glad you asked, as good and clear communications is at the bulwark protagonation theses coming under dwisply scrutenable wall demi longerons for the mapped semblings rated peer-to-peer. Unfortunately, the answer is confidential.
Q: You build a lot of prototypes and a lot of low to mid volume production. Right? Given that, can you tell me, was Stonehenge a prototype or a production build?
A: That’s a great question Kelvin. Of course most people are aware that the Anasazi dwellings in the America Southwest were, in fact, end-use production structures. The same can’t be said for the Moai carved by the Rapa Nui back in the year 1250. Some Moai are clearly unfinished prototypes, while many others were completed for final installation. Stonehenge is actually several structures in one, and is most likely the result of the designer making changes to the bill of materials (BOM) after starting the build.
Q: Are you right or left handed, and which hand holds the solder and which holds the iron?
A: Awesome question Kelvin. I was hoping you’d ask it. Yes.
Q: A bit of a sensitive subject here, again relating to the growth. Growth is change and change is hard and can lead to conflict. What steps does Screaming Circuits take to keep the peace while integrating so many new employees – give some advice on this subject to other fast growing companies.
A: Wow! Such a fantastic question Kelvin. You are totally probing in the GHz range with that one. Management here believes in a lot of interpersonal training. We work hard at active listening, full-loop communications, and when confrontation happens, we make sure it’s constructive confrontation.
I can best describe the boundaries of constructive confrontation with a hypothetical situation: If a coworker privately criticizes your proposal with data and non-emotional questions and then actively listens to your response, that’s constructive confrontation. If, on the other hand, they publicly call it the worst proposal ever to waste ink, toss it out the window, and shove your finger in a light socket, they’ve likely passed the bounds of constructive criticism (keeping in mind that it might actually be the worst proposal ever to waste ink) and you might want to bring it up with your manager.
If your manager calls it the worst proposal ever to waste ink, tosses it out the window, and shoves your finger in a light socket, that’s called situational management.
Thermodynamics? I don’t think it exists.
March 32nd, 2018