ICE Attributes – 4. Independent Judgement and Responsibility

This Attribute on judgement and responsibility could almost have been written for any profession, as you are expected to juggle multiple factors and make a decision on what is the best solution given your constraints.

Independent Judgement TCEE

Independent Judgement – Are you calling the shots? Source

The sub-parts of this Attribute are:

A) Identify the limits of personal knowledge and skills.

B) Exercise sound independent engineering judgement and take responsibility.

C) Identify the limits of a team’s skill and knowledge

D) Exercise sound holistic independent judgement and take responsibility.

As should be indicative from the wording, you should aim for the latter two parts as they are follow-ons from the first two.

There is a famous saying, the “5 Ms of management:

  • Manpower
  • Money
  • Machinery
  • Material
  • Minutes

Using the resources available to you, what mix of those 5 Ms would you choose in your situation? Your situation may be such that your beautifully engineered solution may be unworkable due to the unavailability of staff or equipment to build your idea.

“Identifying the limits of skill and knowledge of your team”, touches upon the first M above. In this sub-attribute there is an implication you understand why having the right staff (and the attitude that goes with it) is important. Would your team ever produce good results if none of them were trained in their field? Would you want your team showing up drunk, slacking or constantly performing tasks dangerously?

You will therefore need to show that you are leading in some way. If you are a manager or team leader it will almost certainly be part of your job description to do staff appraisals or conduct feedback sessions. You should include these reports as part of your submission for CEng review where you will probably be asked about how you managed your team. (If you have ever had to dismiss someone or give uncomfortable feedback like underperformance, then this will be especially interesting for reviewers.)

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But if you are in a position where you are not the formal manager, then you can demonstrate your leadership qualities by discussing your observations or trying to gather data yourself. It could be something such as asking your colleagues to fill in questionnaires on their experience/competence in certain areas, or you might consider whether it is worth hosting a workshop on a specific skill and you are trying to gauge interest.

On the other Ms you need to demonstrate through your project or other working experiences how you had to prioritise one M over the other, or how you assessed the risks behind different methods of executing your project and demonstrating how it was unacceptable to do a particular method because of the risk of losing too much time or material.

If you are unable to satisfy either Attributes 1 or 2, then by logic you will almost certainly be failed on Independent Judgement too.

A favourite question often asked by reviewers is “what would happen if…” and then one parameter of your situation is changed. You would need to explain the impact of that single parameter changing – and they could be extensive!

  • “What would happen if you had double the amount of money available?”
  • “What would happen if you were to do this project in remote Africa?”
  • “What would happen if this specialist machinery were not available?”

and so on.

You entire engineering career will be judged on your ability to make the right decisions. In trying to satisfy this Attribute you may find that while you are often dealing with conflicting parameters, trying to put it into words is harder than you might expect!

Back to Attribute 3. Management and Leadership

Forward to Attribute 5. Commercial Ability

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