Episode 60 — Social License

socialGeological engineer Pamela Rogalski shares her insights about using social license to enact change in organizations and communities during this episode of The Engineering Commons.

  • Adam notes that bureaucracies seem rather opposed to the concept of change.
  • Our guest for this episode is Pamela Rogalski, a licensed professional engineer from Canada who has worked as a manager, strategist, educator, negotiator, and executive level adviser for geotechnical engineering and power generation firms in her home province of British Columbia.
  • Pamela notes technology can be viewed as having both beneficial and deleterious aspects, a theme widely reflected in literature and the arts, as well as in engineering reasoning.
  • The conflict between humans and machines is woven into Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” in which the author expresses discomfort that people would “serve” a mechanical thresher he calls the “red tyrant.”
  • Pamela’s technical degree is in Geophysical Engineering, which maps the earth’s subterranean properties by analyzing how electrical, magnetic, or seismic waves propagate through the subsurface.
  • Geotechnical engineering investigates structural properties of the earth’s subsurface.
  • Both Geophysical and Geotechnical Engineering are subfields of Geological Engineering.
  • While still a student, Pamela joined Engineers Without Borders.
  • Our guest believes engineers can be much better at communicating how technical solutions align with organizational priorities.
  • Getting engaged in the “procurement conversation” is a method Pamela recommends for increasing an engineer’s organizational influence.
  • A social license is a community‚Äôs consent to a project or structure existing in their local area.
  • Pamela co-founded the Engineering Leadership Council, a non-profit organization that works with technical professionals to advise companies and communities in addressing social and environmental concerns as they implement infrastructure projects within Canada.
  • Brian mentions the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository as a project that failed to acquire social license from the local communities.
  • It’s nearly impossible for “social impact” to win a direct fight with financial interests, according to our guest.
  • A community of practice allows for shared learning among individuals with a common area of interest.
  • Pamela feels that change management is an important aspect of bringing about innovation within an organization or community.
  • A change curve attempts to map personal and organizational reactions to new situations and technologies.
  • Pamela describes the ADKAR change model, detailed in the book “ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community,” by Jeffrey Hiatt.
  • Jeff asks about similarities between the change curve and the adoption curve.
  • Pamela enjoys managing volunteers, but notes that “high-capacity” volunteers deserve a lot of support.
  • In her spare time, Pamela enjoys mountaineering.
  • Our guest encourages engineers to work in line with their personal values, and to seek ways for nudging their organizations into actions that are consistent with those values.
  • Pamela can be reached via email: progalski ++ at ++ engleadership.org. There is also a “contact” page on the Engineering Leadership Council website.

Thanks to JD Hancock for the photograph titled “Social.” Podcast theme music by Paul Stevenson.

4 thoughts on “Episode 60 — Social License”

  1. Greetings!
    Just want to say. You guys are one of the very few engineering podcasts that I have found… period! Great stuff. My favorite so far was the Nuclear guy.
    I am a student; Just finished community college, up to Calc 3 and Physics and I’m transferring to Michigan Tech for Chemical Engineering. Are you guys going to have anymore chemical engineers on? That would be pretty rad!
    Also, does the commons have a facebook?

    1. Hey, Ben! Glad you like the podcast.

      We’ve been looking for chemical engineers to have as guests, but haven’t had much luck so far. Perhaps you know someone we should interview?

      No Facebook page thus far. We can barely keep up with this website and the occasional announcement on Twitter :^)

      Good luck with your studies at Michigan Tech!

  2. As a preface let me state that I enjoy this podcast immensely as I am currently an engineering student. I greatly respect the valued viewpoint of your guest. She has kindly taken time to share with us her experience and I have found them, for the most part, edifying.

    However, I must register my displease, as a military veteran, over your guest’s contextually-broad and back-handed comments regarding the “military” . The “military” in the historical context has always flowed from the societies in which they have been raised. Despite the implication of your guest, the “lack of a safety culture” has never been, and never will be, the fault of “The Military”. Rather this deeply historical fault is of the wider society. In this sense then your guest, not informed by any relevant experience, incorrectly associates “lack of safety culture” with “military”.

    It is this prejudicial viewpoint, always associating “military” with “bad” things, that I beg your guest reconsider. I am empathic to, and well steeped in, the modern, “humanistic,” notions ; however, I ask your guest consider the wider social implications her viewpoint has on those who do chose to serve.

    Soldiers are just a human as anyone else and as such they are equally, if not more, susceptible to the social-politics of ill-informed opinions that broadly or contextually denigrate their chosen profession.

    1. Thank you, Goblin, for sharing your thoughts about this episode. Your willingness to be empathetic toward our guest’s viewpoint is very much appreciated. I think it is quite difficult for those of us without military experience to fully understand the perspectives of those, like yourself, who have served. Nonetheless, you raise a valid point in noting we should not assume military personnel to have any less a concern about individual safety, or to be in any manner cavalier about the loss of human life. Your comment has reminded me of the disarming ease with which we can make sweeping generalizations that are at best incomplete, and at worst harmful to others.

      Again, thank you for listening to our podcast, and for your service. Good luck with your engineering studies!

Comments are closed.