black box

The “Black Box” theory for Old School Technicians that still are in control of most part of infrastructures in the world, jeopardizing sustainability and sustained growth because of negative prejudgment and for being unable to cope with technology fast growth.

When you address a CEO or a business owner about new technologies or innovative solutions that can promote sustained technologic results, the first reaction is to call engineering or the technical manager. Big mistake!

Engineering and technical managers have usually one goal in mind: to keep operations active and avoid surprises that can endanger business routine activity. When confronted with new challenges to either reduce operating costs most part tend to classify such solutions as a BLACK BOX and doing so, they just close the door to potential new solutions that can enhance business competitiveness and sustainability.

Such attitude, usually based on lack of knowledge or lack of time to study what can promote better technical results, have a tremendous financial negative impact in business while delaying technical competiveness and promoting fear inside engineering towards cutting-edge technical solutions that could reduce costs, improve technical response and approach answers towards a proactive engineering: meaning less costs and enriched technical team.

Business owners, CEO’s and General Managers believe that having an engineering responsible is the answer to sustainability, to technical development, to energy conservation and cost reduction but that is not true. Unfortunately the spectrum of the engineering responsibilities is quite wide and priorities must be made to keep protected what’s relevant (in their personal goals) and other less important factors to business will be diverted (energy cost-reduction, new technologies, innovative solutions, etc.) since they will require study, time expenditure, career challenges and commitment. Besides capital improvement projects are time consuming and even can prove to be threatening to their career if something will denounce lack of awareness, proficient judgments or knowledge. So they call such potential beneficial solutions of “black boxes” and tend to ignore them.

These old schools technicians believe that state-of-the-art technical solutions must prove themselves first and the market will give them the answer to the lack of interest, lack of determination to face the constant new technologic challenges and learn how to prove themselves worthy of their responsibility and, in the limit, their salary. That is obviously the wrong approach since it delays business competitiveness and wastes money while those who embrace such challenges and dare to use them, improve results while reducing overall operational costs and became a reference in their activity. The others, the old school “black box” guys, will gradually lose respect, promote operational unbalance and soon will be replaced leaving a low profile memory.

But when you ask the old school engineers or technicians why they ignored groundbreaking solutions that could project business to better efficiency and reduce overall costs, they simply say: it was a “black box” and I have hundreds of offers a day for such “black boxes”, I just don’t have the time to waste studying them. What more can we say under such statement?

Unfortunately in today’s reality, and depending on the prestige of the business, engineers are truly bombarded with a wide range of offers and many technical responsible unfortunately deliver their administrative assistants the responsibility of filtering all income offers and what can be important. Such frivolous behavior is common and does affect business sustainability since administrative assistants cannot understand most part of technical information and just close a door that should be a prerogative of engineering. This sad attitude is common and clearly an image of the irresponsible technician that allows a secretarial assistant to turn down technologies that could save substantial resources and increase competitiveness. It is unbelievable the losses that such irresponsible attitude produce in business and, more impressive, accepted by the business management while completely ignoring what is happening, believing that engineering is doing a great job.

The “Black Box”culture proliferates and business owners, while trying to reduce operational costs, endorse such bizarre culture, endangering business growth and its own success by accepting old school skepticism and lack of knowledge or determination to keep up with a  technologic damanding marketplace.

When we look to Solar Energy and the increasing offer emerging from the enhanced technology that allows solar cell efficiency to the portion of energy in the form of sunlight that can be converted via photovoltaics into 46% electricity (2014 record), technicians tend to be skeptical and wait for “better days”, better pay-back, better conditions, etc.

When we look into Led Lighting versus other illumination solutions, technicians tend to wait for a better prices, for better market conditions, proven solutions, referrals, etc., thus aggravating business costs for not commit into innovation and being what they should stand for: Responsible.

When looking for Green Solutions or for power optimization and load control, distributed generation, bloom box or energy storage, rain harvesting, etc. the usual “black box” technicians tend to say:…”let’s wait and see what results will show or what the others will say about it”… while differing such potentially beneficial solutions that could reduce strategic costs while enhancing business effectiveness just because it takes time to study, it takes time to promote the investment, it takes time to discuss and follow an eventual project that may endanger the technician career if unsuccessful. That’s the “black box” philosophy and that’s how several businesses lost competiveness because no one dares to lose the job while standing for what is right. At some point some of these old school “black box” technicians tend to create followers that will put their job above their proficiency and character, following their old school teacher theory.

The interesting part of this “black box” ideology is that most part of business owners know who they have at engineering and sometimes they tend to forget “what’s bad” for the loyalty and longtime serving, dangerously ignoring that while doing so they are downgrading business market aggressiveness and compromising business technical capabilities in the short term.

I remember some years ago, while I was managing a Publishing Group, that clients used to withhold publicity when crossing a market recession thus eliminating the main path to promote their sales: Advertising. Likewise, some business owners or managers tend to postpone energy conservation projects and even guaranteed energy cost-reduction solutions because they are experiencing low sales or reduced operation therefore keeping the same aggravated energy costs that were worsening business financial strength. That is a huge mistake. When the market conditions are unfavorable that’s when a smart attitude must take place, either using the existent resources to promote the product or services and, as well, promote rational attitude towards energy conservation and energy cost-reduction.

The “black box” philosophy will always assist the old school technicians since some of them just cannot make the time and the aptitude to fully understand today’s fast growing technologic advancements, nonetheless I still believe in integrity and determination, in good and committed technicians that challenge their technical limitations to be able to advance and keep learning, keep enjoying the challenge of knowledge, the excitement of testing new boundaries and prove themselves a reference for their own dignity and respect.