Monday, October 28, 2013

Ti-Anse Team

When McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged, a Seattle guy explained to me the difference between a “family” and a “team.” I was told a team selects and can remove members.  A family, on the other hand, does not select members and you can never be kicked out.  That made sense at the time, but it made me wonder how a team with the positive attributes of a family would fare.

I got to see those results in practice on my recent Haiti mission.  Our project engineer hand selected very specific people with the skills needed to accomplish the water system and pipeline installation task.  We had an industrial plumber, machine operator, heavy machine mechanic, nurse, interpreter, equipment driver, finance manager, and some strong general helpers.  The team came together during the journey to location (Ti-Anse, Haiti – in the far Northwestern region) and performed their assignments both individually and as a team.  If you were wondering what I brought to the party – it was the ability to organize the group of 64 Haitian laborers and the conditioning to walk 10 miles a day overseeing the pipeline!  Everyone brought something that only they had, but they also acted as a family caring for and helping one another. It was a classic example of putting the task before self.

What are your thoughts on the difference between team and family?  Do you try to merge the tow concepts when you lead?



Monday, October 14, 2013

Hotter than Haiti

Sometimes opportunities present themselves that make no sense.  I had no particular desire to visit Haiti and no ties to any mission efforts. 

As often the case, helping others achieve their objectives turns out to be leadership in action.  In this case, my brother was trying to bring water to the village of Ti-Anse in Haiti.  He is a retired facilities project engineer from General Motors with all the right skills to bring this project to life.  I was a guy with some extra time at the moment.  When asked, my immediate reaction was “no”.  Why would I want to do this 10 day trip with no basic comforts?  When I changed the question to, “would I help someone accomplish their objective?”, then answer changed to “yes”.  A very similar situation happened in my career when asked to go to England to complete three MD-11’s in modification. I said no at first and then was instructed to go.  This was the turning point where I worked internationally the rest of my career visiting over 50 countries.

So – as you read this LiaV post, I’m in Haiti and perhaps the 5 miles of pipe, 2 cisterns and distribution system are working.

How has helping someone else achieve their goals caused you to grow and mature as a leader?


Monday, October 7, 2013

Man Camps (Unintended Consequences)

What if someone told you that your community could have thousands of new jobs, increased home values and lots of tax dollars to build roads and schools?

Heading up Route 85 in North Dakota towards the northern entrance of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we kept seeing what looked like poorly maintained camp grounds.  There were groups of trailers and trucks down dusty driveways with very little shade.  We were also on a camping trip, but these did not look like a place we would stop. 

Talking with the locals, we learned these were the “man camps” for the thousands of oil workers that have arrived in North Dakota since the hydraulic fracturing(“fracking”) industry started.  This is not a blog about the pros or cons of fracking, but of the unintendedconsequences of growth and progress.  ND now sports the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.  There are jobs for everyone.  There are also overcrowded roads, massive rent and real estate price increases, law enforcement challenges, crime that was never seen before and the sense of “community” is disappearing.  One law enforcement officer described it as a return to the Wild West – cowboys with money, without wife’s, out doing whatever they want.  Only this time they replaced the horses with new 4X4 pick-up trucks with rifle racks.

Independent of your opinion on fracking, leaders in all situations must try their best to consider the unintended consequences of their decisions.  Benchmarking others is a great way to do this.  It is amazing what can be learned from a simple phone.

What “no brainer” decisions have you reversed once you learned the unintended consequences?


Add to Technorati Favorites