Our Three Work Rules

 
 

'Safety First' is not a rule, it's a state of mind.

Rules can be and regularly are broken (hopefully for good reasons). There simply is no substitute for putting safety first. We should never tackle a job if it is unsafe. We should always delay a job if it will be safer to have a second person present. No deadline, no work plan, no work goal trumps safety first. If we can't protect our own safety and the safety of all others 100% of the time, we should resign. If we see a colleague about to act unsafely, it is our complete obligation to stop them…full out! Speak to the proprietor if this is not clear to you.

Rule 1: Do it right, or do it over.

It is not easy to do a job well--so that its results last for a long time. Even simple jobs are hard. We want to do jobs well the first time: not only so that they don't have be done over, but so that they last longer than anybody could expect. This requires three things: (1) a strong attention to details, (2) a true internal commitment to excellence in our work products and (3) doing the right things in the right order (RTRO). And RTRO is not possible without serious planning and thinking before a project is started. Few of us get something perfectly right when we just think it through in our head. We get far better results when we put in writing or drawing and when we expose and discuss the plan with others. Many of our early projects will be virginal to us and we may have limited or no experience to apply. This makes thoughtful planning all the more important. RTRO requires a more disciplined approach to our work since it defies our instinct to go for easy gratification. The result, however, is often a more efficient and more replicable workflow.

Rule 2: Do what you say, and say what you do.

We think of this as work integrity. If we have integrity our word is as good as our bond. We 'do what we say' when we say or agree we will do something and we do it--without others having to follow-up on us to check on our status or completion. And we 'say what we do' when make sure others know the status of our projects--again without having to chase us down to find out. When these two little phrases stay in our thinking and guide our work each day, we will complete more and more of what we complete will be anticipate by and useful to others. Taken and followed together, these two phrases can lead us to greater speed and higher closure rates on our projects. After all, what good is a project unless it is closed out in a proficient and a timely way? And what good is a completed project if nobody else knows about it? Very few people over communicate, most under communicate.

Rule 3: Bad news can't wait, good news can.

When we work on a team, each team member will have different thoughts and priorities in their heads. When a bad thing happens it can and usually will have an impact on everybody else's immediate priorities. If we communicate immediately when a bad thing happens it allows our work colleagues (1) to adjust their immediate priorities, (2) to add their thoughts on how to address the situation and (3) to make decisions about how they should respond to the situation. Also, usually a single problem is not really that much of a problem, it is when two problems connect, intersect or interact that the first problem then becomes a real problem. When you get bad news out quickly about the first problem you have a chance of avoiding the compounded big problem by getting the engagement of the other team members.