Why I like Maggie...

There are people in the industry that I should know, that I know lots of people who know, and who I have never, for one reason or another, actually met. Margaret Walker, VP of darn near everything engineering related at Dow Chemical is one of those people. So I was really excited to see her on the keynote program at Automation World. She said that she wouldn't bore us with all the technical evaluations Dow did to select ABB as their vendor partner to replace their proprietary MOD5 control systems. She did say that she had handed ABB a list of 362 "top priority requirements" and that ABB agreed to do every single one of them. "We wanted someone to work with us on a sustainable solution to carry us forward, since the MOD5 platform was no longer sustainable," she noted. "It is about relationships," she said,"but if the technology is not there, the conversation doesn't happen." Then Maggie started talking about the real woo-woo stuff that actually makes relationships work...the communication, the buying into the shared vision, the thinking that everybody clearly understands what the language and the jargon means. She talked about sessions where the ABB and Dow teams did human potential exercises and org dev exercises to make sure that they were all on the same page. Some of the people in the audience were clearly uncomfortable with this. Maggie's talk reminded me greatly of a speech given by another woman last year at Rockwell's Automation Fair. Flo Mostaccero is also vp of almost everything to do with engineering, but at Coors, rather than at Dow. Her views were identical to Maggie's. Someday I'd like to see the two of them on a platform together. Very bright, powerful women who know what is up. One last Maggie-ism: "Conflict is not about winning and losing, it is about resolution." Finally, Maggie gave a progress report on the results of the relationship between Dow and ABB... --the platform is sustainable --it is an open architecture platform leveraging industry standards --it is technology specific --it incorporates state based control --it incorporates integrated safety instrumented systems --cycle time for project development has been reduced significantly. Comments? --Walt Boyes

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