"Rhetoric for Engineers" available FREE!

Are you having trouble with any of this?     Hiring the right people?     Training new people?
    Motivating people?     Finding and developing ideas?     Entering a new market?     Communicating with customers?     Finding out what data is telling you?     Getting technology to work with you?     Bouncing back from mistakes?     Anticipating problems?
The solutions to all these problems are based in rhetoric - the art of argument. The free e-book, "Rhetoric for Engineers and Other Practical People" will help you, but if it's not enough, let ME help you. I'm available for consultation, and I've got experience in all these areas. But don't take my word for it. Look over the book first. If the book doesn't give you some idea of what I can do, just ignore me. But if the book has some value, imagine what the writer can give!
Find the online version of the book here: http://www.tcnj.edu/~rgraham/rhetoric /
If you want a copy for your desktop, send me an e-mail. rgraham AT tcnj DOT edu
Dr. Ron Graham founder of Usenet newsgroup sci.engr, and no longer proud of it :-( "Better is the enemy of good enough" -- Russian quality slogan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 19:18:54 -0800, Ron Graham wrote:

Interesting page. But already I can see that you left out one important mode of appeal: Bathos, or "what happens if I dissolve in a puddle of tears right here on the conference room floor -- will they give me what I want just to stop the noise?".
--
Tim Wescott
Control systems and communications consulting
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ron Graham wrote:

Maybe rhetoric can convince people that dog droppings taste like chocolate pudding, but science and engineering deal with facts; either the tower withstands strong wind or it falls. Rhetoric may help to defend the lawsuit, but it won't hold up the tower.
Jerry
--
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.

  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jerry Avins wrote:

Rhetoric will help you convince the "money men" to build the tower that will stay up, however. Otherwise you'll be stuck as #2 man on the project team headed up by the guy with the fountain pen who interviews well, but never stays around long enough for his failures to stick to _him_.
Frankly, Jerry, I suspect that you're a pretty good rhetorician -- otherwise you wouldn't have convinced the powers that be to give you room to be a good engineer.
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tim Wescott wrote:
...

Where I've worked, it took facts, not fancy arguments to do that. Still,...

...you may be right. Back when computers were coming into use for scientific calculation and a minicomputer with 16 Kwords of core was within reach of most large commercial projects, RCA's data-processing department decreed "You shall use these computers and no others." They had a point. A different computer meant a different compiler and editor, and proliferation was getting out of hand.
Our group needed a mini to be part of a bench experiment, and a critical factor in its choice was the details and cost of the I/O. The one we could easily use wasn't on the list. I spent about a week looking for ways to use the allowed machines, then groused to my manager, "If I needed two $5,000 scopes, there's be no problem. One $10,000 computer, and it's like the asking for something from King Tut's tomb!" He said "Tell that to Rajchman. Maybe it's an argument he can use" (Jan Rajchman was director of the computer lab.
Rajchman repeated it to the head of the labs (and a corporate VP) and to Paul Brown, a member of the board of directors in New York whose office was at the labs. Brown asked me why that particular choice. Rhetoric would not have sufficed for an answer. Together they brought it to the full board, which overruled the DP department. I got the Nova 1200.
Jerry
--
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.

  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 22:26:02 -0500, Jerry Avins wrote:

But it always takes some convincing to get people to look at the facts, and you have to arrange your facts in a manner that will transmit the message that you want your audience to get without getting distracted by side issues, and you often have to tell the audience what message they're supposed to be getting without getting their dander up.
That's all rhetoric. If you're presenting to a hostile audience, it's either good rhetoric (possibly with fancy arguments) or failed rhetoric.

Saying "This computer is only $10000, so you should buy it!" is presenting the facts, but won't get you very far. Saying "I have unique needs for this computer, it only costs as much as this other thing you'll get for me, and it'll cost much less in the end if you give me a variance" is good rhetoric.
Logos, or the appeal to logic, is the rhetorical approach that should probably be used most often as an engineer, but the presentation still needs to be made well -- numbers don't lie, but they don't talk so you gotta get folks to read them.
--
Tim Wescott
Control systems and communications consulting
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree with Tim. Engineering is very much a people focussed activity, and communication is a big part of it. Putting effort into making your message persuasive is one of the best things you can do.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bruce Varley wrote:
...

OK: I accept the correction. I never thought about it much, probably because I haven't needed to. I'm reminded of the politician who, some years before I was born, stood on an overturned barrel to give a campaign speech. The bottom caved in while he spoke. He climbed out and, standing on the rim, declared that the weight of his argument could be counted on to carry him through. He was elected.
Jerry
--
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.

  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I appreciate that answer. But it's a false argument. You make it sound like it's one or the other. Either "facts" or "fancy arguments." How likely is that?
Where I've worked, I've seen good people with good facts who were unable to get the point across, and as a result were ignored as surely as if they hadn't done the work at all. I, and I'm sure many others in these groups -- if there still ARE many others -- can name historical examples illustrating the same point.
Dr. Ron Graham founder of Usenet newsgroup sci.engr, and no longer proud of it :-( editor of Rhetoric for Engineers and start me up!: Young Entrepreneurs "Better is the enemy of good enough" -- Russian quality slogan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ron Graham wrote:

I agree now. I take the goal of expressing myself so much for granted that I lost sight of it's value.

Shouldn't that be "Good enough is the enemy of better"? I grant that enmity is usually a reciprocal relation, but the flavor seems different.
Jerry
--
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.

  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dear Jerry Avins:

...
The winner is the enemy of the "also ran". Does it taste better that way? The winner can be gracious, and has few enemies...
David A. Smith
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jerry Avins wrote:

Striving for "better" when your customers are willing to pay good money for "good enough" may delay your product release to a fatal degree.
Resting on your "good enough" laurels when your competitors are primed to release "better" -- or even when your market is saturated with "good enough" -- may put you behind in the market to a fatal degree.
There's sense in both forms of the slogan.
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Isn't that the truth? Most of us have for years called this phenomenon "paralysis by analysis." LOL
Dr. Ron Graham founder of Usenet newsgroup sci.engr, and, well... LOL Just the FAQs, man -- http://www.tcnj.edu/~rgraham / "You know a design is good when you want to lick it." - Steve Jobs
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You spend the time determining what the specs need to be. Then you meet them. There is no loop in a good design waterfall for exceeding them.
--
Scott
Reverse name to reply
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Aristotle: Logos, pathos AND ethos.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.