RE: ++ Viewpoint: How Much is an Innovative Engineer Worth?

Sir, Regarding your article in JIN 197 "How much is an innovative engineer worth?" I take the liberty of sharing some of my experience and insights with you. I spent 4 years as a design engineer in a Japanese company (Sumitomo Group) where they demanded a minimum of 3 patent applications a year from each engineer. They paid me of the order of a 500yen for two of them which were hardly worth the paper they were written on and worse I suppose a few bob was spent on research and filing and they probably never came to anything anyway. The point is I was getting a salary to show up for work and put in a bit of thinking so Sumitomo were investing money if me and hundreds like me in a kind of blanket bombing mentality of making patents. By a similar logic to compensation of the one in a million times hit might not the company be justified to penalize the employees when their ideas are duds or mistakes cost money? Maybe it is fear of failure which splits us and if this doesn't make sense to anyone then they aren't reading enough Dilbert. At any rate, it seems like a little bit of common sense to reward someone "bright" enough (excuse the pun) to come up with a multi-million or billion dollar creation highly. One cannot be sure but if Shuji had been given a couple of tens of millions of yen, salary rise maybe even promotion it might have kept him on the sweet side to go on to capitalize on it or at least avoid bad press. Good business is good for everybody. Paying ridiculous rewards such as sports stars salaries has pitfalls (for example value vs. worth all dependant on perspective meaning someone will always feel they are getting done) so if the case goes against Shuji my proposal for people smart enough to come up with such a brilliant idea is keep your cards close to your chest until you know you are going to get what makes you happy and if not take it elsewhere. Undoubtedly he knew the company rules when filing his patent so if he wasn't happy before it was a hit so being upset after the fact is a lack of foresight as you can never expect the company to be reward in retrospect unless you have something more to offer. Perhaps the students consider his approach as been motivated by greed and a feeling of sour grapes but really who is to know what the real story is. Yours faithfully,

Trevor Allen

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