If Software-Industry-years are like dog-years, I’ve been working with Blue Ridge Numerics for 56 years. Staying with a company in any industry for more than 5 years is a rarity these days. I am as excited to come to work for this company every morning as I was 8 years ago. As far as I can tell, all my coworkers feel the same way. How unusual is that?!?
Yes- we’ve always been the leader in upfront CFD… and, it certainly is fun to be #1. But, that isn’t the reason this is such an exciting place to work. We have cultivated and maintained a unique corporate culture that rewards innovation, risk taking, positivity, and fun.
Many companies are faced with manpower issues today, particularly in Mechanical Engineering. You can’t expect to solve that issue by simply hiring more people, though. You need to hire new people AND keep the most productive people you already have.
I worked at General Motors in a previous life. It took a couple signatures and several weeks to order new pencils. I really wanted to push the use of upfront CAE simulation tools in my group, but I couldn’t seem to jump through the right political and bureaucratic hoops to make it happen. Oddly, I didn’t have a budget issue… I just had a red tape issue!
So, I managed to buy a fancy new computer from an obscure supplier that “just happened” to come pre-loaded with CFdesign and Nastran. Since it was classified as “test equipment” at our back dock, I was able to completely avoid the official “software procurement” process!
Unfortunately, I was probably the only person young & dumb enough to go to such lengths to get my way. Most people had long been beaten into mediocre submission. They just watched the clock and did their time until happy hour. Needless to say, we weren’t terribly innovative. And, our management didn’t seem to mind!
If you want to build a strong, passionate, innovative team- it is your job to shield it from corporate bureaucracy and numb-nut policies. Create that maverick group that everyone wishes they could join. Give your people plenty of room to fall on their faces… Then pick ’em up, dust ’em off, congratulate them on the effort, and put ’em back in the game! Create an environment where people focus on possibility, not policy. Create a culture of innovation and you will naturally retain the best and brightest while pruning back the clock-watchers.