Problem Solving 101 with B. Michael Aucoin

At Artech House, we ask our authors what problems their books can help readers solve. In this series, we share what our authors aim to do in their writing. Read on to find out what B. Michael Aucoin, who wrote From Engineer to Manager: Mastering the Transition, Second Edition had to say:

What are some problems your book can help readers solve?

  • Resistance to the transition into management/leadership
  • Ineffective communications with colleagues
  • Frustration with career
  • Out of control projects

What are the features of your book and the specific benefits a reader can expect to derive from those features?  

Feature: 6 simple principles for success in engineering management and leadership.

Benefit: Reduces the amount of time and difficulty that engineers often experience with the transition to a supervisory position. The content is structured to provide the vast majority of what an engineer needs to know to be quickly effective in a supervisory position, while also giving principles that will last for the duration of his/her career.

Feature: Management and leadership are connected to engineering.

Benefit: Many resources present management and leadership as very different from engineering. In so doing, they promote resistance to the transition among engineers. In contrast, this book asserts that engineers have valuable skills and perspectives that are very valuable in management and leadership. Indeed, engineers often make some of the very best managers and leaders.

Feature: Presentation of solid management/leadership concepts and their application.

Benefit: Many resources present management and leadership according to overly simplistic conventional wisdom (e.g. “leaders must demonstrate integrity”) or prescriptions (e.g. checklists). Such approaches miss the mark, and can also mislead readers. The better approach taken in this book is to provide easily understood yet solid management and leadership concepts and provide examples of how to apply them. This approach equips readers to master the wide variety of situations they will encounter. A book that explains what motivates people is far better than one that only directs readers to motivate their subordinates.

Please name the audiences at which this book is aimed. How will this audience use your book?

  • Organizations that employ substantial numbers of engineers, with the potential for bulk sales. Such organizations have a significant need for engineers to step competently into management and leadership positions more quickly. The target purchase decision-makers could include: VP of Engineering, Chief Talent Development Officer, Director of HR, Director of Training, Various Engineering Division Directors (e.g. Design, Mechanical Engineering, etc.). The book can be useful for several talent development and training interventions, including onboarding, preparation for promotion into team leader or first-level management position. Some organizations may also consider giving the book away to prospective hires as a recruitment tool.
  • Universities, as assigned course reading, with the potential for bulk sales. The target decision-makers would be professors, and books would be purchased or rented by students through university bookstores, Amazon or similar vendors. A related channel will be university extension and other continuing education providers with professional short-courses (including myself). Artech House has reported that the first edition of the book had many university course related sales. The second edition will have supplemental material that should increase the attractiveness of the book for these market segments, as this material will include exercises and templates for application of the concepts.
  • Individual engineers, especially at entry-level positions and engineers recently promoted into management. The book is intended to provide information and insights for such individuals to quickly gain substantial proficiency in management and leadership, with content that can be readily applied. Recently promoted engineers typically report being overwhelmed with the new requirements and challenges of management/leadership, so this book represents a lifeline for them to accelerate the mastery of the new role.

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