Industrial workers were viewed as mechanical and unfeeling, and management was the issue. Then management improved by hiring better managers, focusing on improving industrial production, and getting the best out of the workforce. Many of the management practices that helped industrial workers were passed onto management. In other words, what we see in the modern workplace is a confluence of the industrial revolution and the age of management and engineering.
Management is industrial, and all industrial management will need is management to fix the things that industrial management created.The engineers of the industrial revolution, not managers, created the jobs and the ideas. All the engineers of the industrial revolution created that giant skyscraper and replaced the stone works, and so on. Industrial management created all the ideas that management relies on today.
Relationship between Manufacturing and Engineering
There is a relationship between manufacturing and engineering. Those are the two engines that created the modern world. The mechanical engineers produced the machines, and the engineers that designed the machines created the ideas for management, and so on. That process has continued, but with new mechanical engineers to do different types of mechanical engineering. This process is far from over.
As industrial engineers grew in expertise and knowledge, they created the conceptual framework for management practice. That process has not ended.
Consulting Engineers: The Rational Intelligentsia
Engineers created the first management consultants, and that is how I ended up working for them. That process continues. In my day, engineers focused their attention on three things: business, electrical engineering, and engineering management.
The main focus of business engineering
Business engineering focused on business models, starting with production and moving on to ideas for products. Management engineering focused on the management structure, in particular the tools for managing large groups of people. Management technology focused on management methods for industrial engineering, particularly the industrial model.
Now, all those engineering and management ideas are getting broader as people from the industrial environment join the consulting world. I think that engineering management can make the first wave of management better by creating new products. It can create products more rationally. It is not always necessary to manufacture your ideas.
However, the second wave of management will not benefit engineering unless there is a market for those ideas. That market has not emerged yet.
If engineering can develop a better way of designing products and creating new markets, there will be a demand for those products, and the benefits will spread to management.
Engineering management, an experiment for decades, has not been a success and remains just an experiment, but there is no reason it cannot become a success.
Meanwhile, engineering management still focuses on understanding the fundamental processes for managing production. Some engineers focus on making products better, and others on designing new processes.
All the engineering work of the last two centuries resulted in manufacturing and managing production better. There is no reason it can’t happen again.
Role of Engineering Management
Engineering management is better equipped to understand what is coming. A lot of industrial engineering is based on the assumption of specific technologies. The assumption is that more and better technology will solve the issues. In reality, the assumption was wrong. That is the reality of industrial engineering.
It has been impossible to predict what new technologies would come along and solve those issues. The only work engineers can do to design new technologies to solve the problems. That process is not over. That process never stops, but it is not as exciting as manufacturing, either.
To come back to our original question, whether a management engineer is an industrial engineer?
An industrial engineer has experience managing many people in manufacturing plants and managing the people of manufacturing plants. The management is focused on creating processes and tools to solve the problems of a large manufacturing plant. That is not the case with management engineers.
For example, engineering management deals with large groups of people. That is a management responsibility, but it has very little to do with manufacturing. Manufacturing engineers are still in the industrial engineering field, and the tools are still in industrial engineering.
The third phase is managerial engineering, which is where management engineers get into the business world. However, the skills are the same.
To think about developing management technologies, one needs to think about management in the first place. Most management jobs are not managers of large groups of people. It is the management for management. These people need to understand the principles for managing those managers.
Once you understand how to manage managers, you also understand how to manage large groups of people. That process may start with managing large groups of people, which is the first step in the third phase of management.
It makes a lot of sense to develop a different set of management tools than managers had before. If you don’t, you will be creating the same processes for managing managers that you used for managing managers before.
It doesn’t make sense, so if there is a third phase, management engineers should make sure they start managing managers. The production managers used before they began to build industrial engineering should be the ones used now, as managers. It is what engineering managers should be focused on. Instead of building new technology to solve production problems, they should be building better tools for managing their managers.
By then, manufacturing engineers should be focused on management strategies, especially how to manage groups of people. Industrial engineering and the management of large groups of people have a lot of similarities. It makes a lot of sense to start with them. It may seem like splitting hairs. But, it is important to understand the differences and similarities. The major difference is the focus on managing managers. The specific skills and technologies are almost the same.
Before an industrial engineer starts looking at management, he or she needs to understand production. Management of large groups of people is a different strategy, and it is far more difficult. It is also much more interesting.