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Design007-May2020

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30 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 expectation of "stay at home" will turn around to become "get back to work," and that will be a welcome relief for everyone. There are a lot of other expectations, however, that designers deal with regularly, too. While some expecta- tions are normal—and, well, expected—in the workplace, there are also those that do more harm than good. Do any of these three sound familiar to you? 1. Schedules: Not having enough time to get the job done, sliding delivery dates, or changes without corresponding schedule adjustments top the list. These are just some of the frustrations that we experi- ence with schedule expectations, but there are plenty of others. 2. Deliverables: If your job is to lay out a PCB, it's pretty obvious what the overall expectation is. However, there are many details of the layout that can get lost in the shuffle, such as manufacturing draw- ings, output file requirements, and internal documentation. How these details are to be completed and who is responsible for their content and acceptability often gets changed without advanced notice, and yet it is the designer that is often held accountable. 3. Processes: A team member or a vendor may change, but you aren't notified, and you end up waiting for information that never comes. You're expecting answers while your boss is expecting results, and everyone ends up being disappointed. This probably won't come as a big surprise, but the frustration over unmet expectations like this is common not only in our industry but everywhere. A recent informal survey con- ducted by our editors at DesignCon revealed that users and vendors alike often voiced the same concern: "I never know what is expected from me." I have found that a lot of these problems can be resolved by working at improving com- munication with our co-workers, managers, and customers. I was careful to use the word "working" in that last sentence because good and effective communication rarely happens organically; it usually takes a lot of planning and effort to set up mechanisms that will pro- mote good communication, but the results are well worth it. Schedules, deliverables, and processes can be better managed, and everyone can take a big step backward from that cliff edge of uncer- tainty and anxiety over wondering just exactly what is expected of them. The next logical question is, "How do we do improve our com- munication in the workplace?" Here are three ideas that might help: 1. Document the workflow: By outlining the basic process steps and who the key reporting and decision-makers are, you can quickly help team members to know exactly what is expected of them. Obvi- ously, you can't document every single tiny detail, but by giving everyone a clear path to follow, they will be less likely to get lost along the way. 2. Multiple reviews in the workflow: A lot of confusion around expectations occurs because of design changes. Changes will happen, of course, but the key is to catch them as early as possible. With regularly scheduled reviews and check-ins during the design process, you can hopefully avoid full redesigns because of a compo- nent change that should have been caught during placement. 3. Include team members in the process: Unmet expectations often happen because someone didn't feel empowered to ask a simple question. This can happen when team members don't feel like they are part of the process, so get them involved. By encouraging participation and feedback, your team members will feel more owner- ship of the process and will be more likely to get fully involved. Many years ago, as a PCB designer for a large electronics manufacturer, I was stunned when on my first day of work, I was pulled into an impromptu meeting about a problem with the mechanical housing of one of our

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