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New Dogs & Old Dogs Innovate

The addition of new people to the automation profession provides a great opportunity to avoid “reinventing the wheel,” and with the synergy between the new dogs and old dogs-the experienced automation professionals-new ideas are created that fuel innovation. The new dogs can teach the old dogs new tricks, and the old dogs can teach the new dogs old tricks!

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There are great advantages to pairing experienced and novice together.

Beyond avoiding old mistakes, there is the potential for tremendous synergy resulting from this combination if the automation people involved have time to work together as a team. Synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a superior result not independently obtainable. Consider the potential, where knowledge of new methods and technology are combined with a deep and intimate understanding of the plant’s automation and physical processes.

It can be counterproductive to immediately put new automation people on projects by themselves. I recently heard an experienced automation engineer describing the dark side of this situation: “Management does not give us enough time to work with the new young engineers, and they are making mistakes that we learned to avoid 15 years ago.” Young automation people just out of college or technical schools have learned the “latest and greatest,” but they lack the know-how and activity knowledge gained with years of experience. Know-how and activity knowledge are the practical understanding of how to get something done, as opposed to “know-what” (facts) or “know-why” (science). Know-how is not obvious, explicit knowledge, and it is often difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalization. It is best experienced in the field with an accomplished mentor as a guide.

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