When I was young in the Industry and young in general, I had an abundance of three fundamental things:
Time, Energy, and Confidence (TEC).
As the years went by (and my, how quickly they went) I found that each of those things waxing thin in varying degrees.
Time was the first to go. I found that the more work I successfully completed, the more work that was available and waiting for me. A job well done meant that there were likely two or three new jobs waiting, each as urgent as the other, and with ever diminishing timelines to complete. Make no mistake- this was a good thing. It was a period of rapid growth and learning. This, in turn, fed my Energy and Confidence, which felt pretty good!
I rapidly engaged in new and more complex projects and learning. Challenges were welcomed and eagerly consumed. I was on my way.
As with any progress, I soon found that there were many hazards along the path as well. And the further that my skills progressed the more hazardous the hazards became.
I had become a victim of the much dreaded “what you don’t know that you don’t know”.
Soon thereafter began the downturn of my Energy and Confidence.
Now on face, this sounds negative, but I assure you it was not entirely bad.
It increased my amount of work, and it made me think about alternative ways to do that work.
The field of Physics defines “work” as: That which is done when a force that is applied to an object moves that object. Work is calculated by multiplying the force by the amount of movement of an object (W = F * d).*
If we think on that a little deeper, force can symbolically represent the level of effort (time/energy) that we expend in attempting to create change or progress on an object (a project/design/installation…etc.).
Suddenly I found that a lot of my work was being directed at uncovering the solution to unknown, or latent issues. Running headlong into incompatibilities or idiosyncrasies that were seemingly undiscoverable in the virtual design phase, and insidiously costly once experienced in the production phase.
It began to feel a little hopeless. Every new decision, design, box, or cable took on the appearance of a potential threat or risk, and those three previously abundant attributes (TEC) were suddenly in danger of absolute depletion.
There had to be an answer, right? I needed to figure out how to minimize the force and maximize the movement. Simple math.
And indeed there was a solution: Quality Assurance Seems obvious right? But how to go about it…therein lie the rub.
I immediately set about a threefold approach: Document known issues and knowledge gaps (The Danger Zones)
Develop an empirical, formulary Checklist that mapped me through the Danger Zones.
Engage in Continuous Improvement of the Danger Zone Mapping. Because the path is long, and the terrain varies.
And armed with the plan, I set off.
It was (and continues to be) an unending and active process, this Quality Assurance thing. But the really great news is that along the way I soon found a group of like-minded people. People who not only desired self- improvement, but also credible increase in Education and Quality throughout the Industry.
Raising the bar for not only our self but also for our competition and colleagues as well.
Who benefits from this? Everyone does.
Integrators, Manufacturers, End- Users, Early Adopters, and all of the ancillary people who see increased efficacy originating in quality based processes and delivery. The long-term effect of that is increased credibility and engagement throughout our Industry.
But to get back to the Physics analogy (because who doesn’t love Physics???), what was the immediate effect on those three fundamental things that I started off with?
Well, I found the arc to begin rapidly rising upward.
My energy returned, because I began investing a portion of it in quality and efficiency afforded me by the Checklists.
My Confidence returned in some measure, but more importantly, a large part of it converted to curiosity. That in turn, drove great advances in analytic, unemotional review of failures, and positive investment in continual improvement.
Bolstered by the shared TEC energy of my newly found Community of Quality I was once again back on a strong and steady path.
The funny thing was that it didn’t stop there. I suddenly found that I had a balanced, renewed focus not only in my work but also in many other areas of my life. Things I may have previously feared or dreaded soon became simply work to be done, and with the formula for work plainly in hand, those things were far less daunting and dark.
Are you new to the business?
Feeling full of TEC, or maybe your reserves are almost down to empty? Feel free to join the Community of Quality. Once you decide to jump in we will share all the secrets with you. Actually, I apologize- we won’t do that. Because they are not really secrets at all. But this I will tell you true: Trust me, once you get to the work it just may change your life!