While knowledge and competence can be acquired by education and training to some extent, there is an inherent limit for every individual to the extent to which such knowledge and competence could be acquired. In other words, you cannot forcibly enhance any one's knowledge and competence beyond certain limits! Hence, it is essential that we recognize this fundamental reality first and device suitable systems in such a way that right persons are entrusted with the right kind of jobs and responsibilities. An organization can fail in its mission and objectives even when it has people with desired levels of competence, character, courage and compassion but are all occupying positions haphazardly and not according to their capacities!
Engineering is that profession that has the biggest contribution towards economic development. Therefore, ignorance and incompetence in the engineering field could cause tremendous adverse impact on any economy. Economies where the decision making processes are vested mostly with people having inadequate knowledge in the nitty-gritties of engineering are bound to lag behind in economic development. They are also bound to incur higher expenditure for keeping pace with development elsewhere and to maintain their forward progress.
In all professions, especially in the engineering profession, mentoring is a desirable trait and culture that needs to be understood and practiced for long term success of the organization. Mentoring is the honest practice of helping and projecting peers, juniors and perhaps even seniors. It is culture or practice of making the knowledge and competence of others known in such a way that such knowledge and experience do not go unnoticed. People with deep knowledge and competency often shy away from projecting their capabilities while people having limited knowledge and experience keep working overtime to project themselves always! In such a situation, there is always a likelihood that inferior people in an organization are entrusted with superior tasks and responsibilities for which they are not very suitable. Obviously, the organization has to pay a big price when it happens this way!
In the small example that I cited in the beginning, it was only due to the fact my senior professional friend knew about my expertise and was willing to tap that source, his company could avoid some wasteful expenditures! I have seen many good technocrats making huge blunders for their organizations just because they had pretty no idea regarding the knowledge and competence levels of their team members creating situations that prevented their teams to deliver their best.
Suppose that you want to make a house of your own. If you are a bit technically knowledgeable in the basics of house construction, construction materials and the markets and if you are prepared to use your knowledge for your advantage there is all possibility that you could make substantial savings in the overall costs for getting your house made and also on the overall quality of your house so made.
If consulting engineers are forced to produce their reports in the manner described above by those who are positioned to do so is again due to the ignorance of the latter about the working of consulting engineers to a great extent. Again this ignorance causes money to go to drain!
Unfortunately, engineering academicians in countries like India do not really understand the practical aspects of engineering profession to make any real guidance to their students in the practice of engineering. If I remember correctly, decades ago, the government of India had enacted a law that made it mandatory for all industries to provide apprenticeship training to fresh engineers for at least one year. This law is totally forgotten now and the whole thrust of engineering education has been shifted towards getting people of some employable skills rather than getting a workforce who are competent to undertake challenges of progress and development on a whole some basis and not in isolated pockets of economic activities.
Think of this. Why are the Indian manufacturing units in many areas are shifting their bases to other countries? Why do we have to depend on foreign technology suppliers always? What could have been the cost advantage to us had we knew things better?
How could we address these issues?
Are we in a position to judge the manner in which our democratic governments address these issues with the help of the so-called bureaucracy at present?
Though there are many kinds of professionals, the ones whose incompetence and ignorance could create some problem to others are the technical professionals such as engineers, doctors, pilots, etc. Obviously, the top administrators, policy makers, law enforcers etc do not come in this category though they play some roles in making the professionals work as non professionals!
The current practice of ensuring better service from the professionals is by the use of fear and threat of the law. When an error in the working of a professional causes some damage of life or property the law zeros in to some one and tries to punish the individual or individuals with punishments of various kinds including imprisonments.
Thus professionals like engineers, doctors and the like who are have to use their intelligence, knowledge and skills to the highest order for doing some complex jobs which others cannot perform are kept under the threat of the law. They work in an environment of what is called 'work-risk'.
How could any one enhance a person's competence and skills of doing some work under threat? A person working under fear is more likely to fail than to excel. Fear also makes people to avoid even routine works that they are capable of doing and if possible they would try to escape from such jobs.
I have seen this happening. I know many cases where young engineers are trying their best to escape from such jobs that they feel as complex, non rewarding and having work-risks associated.
Any wonder why the best trained engineers from premier institutions discard engineering and migrate to non-engineering fields of works? This causes those having lesser brain capacities to get assigned to perform jobs that require higher brain capacities!
This does not mean that those who do willful acts of omission and commission are allowed to do their nefarious activities. But even the system of enforcement of rules and the system of vigilance management are also affected by ignorance and incompetence and could create more damage than good in such an environment!
I know that I cannot do a job which requires an intelligence level higher than what I have. I cannot perform a job for which a higher knowledge and competency is required and my inherent brain capacity would not allow me to acquire that. If I am forced to do such works, I am bound to make mistakes and gross errors. If it happens, am I at fault or the ones that forced me to do it at fault?
This is a complicated issue. It gets further complicated as more and more ignorance and incompetence creep in at all levels.
And imagine the price the society would pay for such a proliferation of ignorance and incompetence!
And what is the probable solution to check the proliferation of this situation from rotting the whole system?
In my opinion our human resource management systems need to be overhauled drastically. The systems of recruiting people and promoting people everywhere needs to change. The method of assigning works and responsibilities need to change. The right man for the right job approach need to be practiced honestly.
So, where to start first? If you have incompetent and characterless HR managers and CEOs it is easier to get the whole systems getting corrupted too quickly. If you extrapolate this logic, it is very easy to to see that a leader with the 4-Cs as the leader of the country, I mean the PM, could do a quick change in the systems if he or she so desires.
Perhaps, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in India, is advocating for such a thing! And if the majority of citizens of India are not ignorant of this then there is a possibility that India might escape from paying a big price for ignorance and incompetence in the near future!