Networked and Positive

The benefits of being networked and positive

Part of what appears to be a series on what it takes to be a really good reliability engineer.


For professionals knowing enough of the right people, helping them solve issues, and asking them for assistance when needed is essential. This is what I mean by networking. Not the casual and informal chatter of some social media venues, rather it is the sharing of knowledge. You can help those seeking employment with notices of openings you find. You can assist with references  when someone is asking about a particular type of failure. You can join discussions online with your peers for the benefit of any reader.

Having knowledge of you peers aspirations and strengths permit you to provide career support or ask for assistance as needed. Personally I like to keep a ration of at least 5 to 10 ‘good deeds’ per request I make. This way I feel that I have contributed to my network and hopefully have generated sufficient good will to garner guidance when requested.

As you meet fellow reliability professionals, stay in touch. Learn about there particular constraints related to reliability engineering. Learn about which tools work or don’t work in their situation. Learn about better ways to accomplish specific reliability tasks. And, share what you know with them.

The network if just a list of names in an address book is not as useful as a vibrant and constant exchange of ideas, questions, and advice. Yes, it takes work and time. In many situations someone has already solved the issue your facing. Learn from them while being efficient is your problem solving.


By positive I mean a ‘can do’ attitude toward accomplishing goals, adding value and helping others. The song, When You’re Smiling, continues with “the whole world smiles with you.* Starting a conversation with a smile often goes a long way toward being productive, effective and enjoyable to work with. As a reliability engineer we often work to find faults in design, resolve field failures, and identify barriers to achieving reliability objectives. Yet our approach, with a smile, with a focus on the positive elements of our work, can help the entire team understand the issues, and working together we can solve them.

Being positive is one reason I like to use reliability (probability of success) as part of the reliability goal phrase rather than failure rate or percentage failed. While 98% reliable and a 2% failure rate (both over one year) are essentially the same message, the former focuses on the success while the latter on failure.

We work with a wide range of talented professionals in the process to bring products to market. We work with people from around the world. We work with a team. Being positive, upbeat, and focused on solving problems helps you be effective and an enjoyable member of the team.

Reliability engineering is not a solitary endeavor. Working with the combined knowledge of your network and finding the enjoyable elements of your work (thus smiling) you may find additional opportunities for career advancement. Of course talent and professionalism count, too.

* Louis Armstrong, When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) [1958 Single Version] lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, THE SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, 1958.

About Fred Schenkelberg

I am an experienced reliability engineering and management consultant with my firm FMS Reliability. My passion is working with teams to create cost-effective reliability programs that solve problems, create durable and reliable products, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce warranty costs.

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