Also important to note, employees helping with steering the community are often R&D engineers. Engineers or developers connected with end users are always likely to be better at their work as they are not working in vacuum on a requirements document from a Product management or Business analysis team.
Another great observation. Before I retired I worked at major aerospace firm that used to have HQ in Seattle (Southpark, actually). Anyway, I was one of those analysts you referred to. At one point I had a meeting with one of the top design engineers at this company. The subject of the meeting was how parts were identified. The prime identifier was, as you might suspect, is the “part number.” It is important to understand that the corporate culture was that the design engineers could do no wrong. The part numbering system had grown up during WW2, long before there were computers. All part numbers for designed parts were derived from the WBS and constrained to 18 characters in length. You could look at the number all by itself and glean a lot of information from it. This part numbering system is referred to as a “intelligent identifiers.” But, there are a ton of drawbacks with intelligent identifiers. One of which is that parts that served exactly the same function across models could not be reused due to the fact that the first four characters of the part number were model identification. This leads to a boatload of redundancy and wasted effort in redesigning parts that serve identical functions across models. Anyway, I won’t dwell on all the problems with intelligent identifiers, but there a lot.
I argued that engineering should switch do “dumb identifiers.” All the “intelligence” embedded in the part number, which served a purpose at one time, was no longer necessary because with modern computer systems the information embedded in the identifier (and more) could be readily recalled from a database whenever required. I, not well known for tact, dismantled each argument advanced by the engineer as to why intelligent part numbers were not needed.
During our discussion, I finally asserted that the design engineers were simply a service organization to manufacturing. That did not go over well. In fact, that comment ended the conversation with no change in the way parts were identified, despite the fact that the existing system was costing the company literally millions of dollars on an annual basis.
The background is necessary because a few years later a young woman (well, younger than I anyway) became the VP in charge of one of the major production sites. She completely reorganized the way the products at that site were designed and manufactured. One of the primary things she did was to collocate the design engineers with manufacturing; they had previously been in a separate off-site location and seldom had direct contact with manufacturing. Her rationale? The design engineers at times designed things that could not be built. At other times, there were discrepancies between what was designed and what was built, every “non-conformance” had to be resolved. Her goal in reorganizing the entire process was to speed up the production rate while simultaneously improving the quality of the product. She clearly perceived that the design was not the product (as the design engineers had asserted for years). The design was a service to the manufacturing process. She co-located the design engineers with their customers, manufacturing.
BTW, the intelligent identifier is still in use, but it has been diluted. Not every part is numbered as a derivative of the WBS in some of the newer products.