Archive for category Entrepreneurship

1st Place New Car, 2nd Place Steak Knives, 3rd Place “You’re Fired” : Yahoo embraces employee ranking #fail

bell-curve-hiring1So on the heels of Microsoft throwing their stacking system under the bus, and running as far away and as fast as they can from Steve Ballmer’ s lackluster rein Yahoo in their infinite wisdom decides to implement a grading system and forcing everyone into the bell curve so essentially, 3rd place “you’re fired”.  Now I understand poor employee hires are the bane of the workplace but assuming the bell curve and natural distribution in your workplace….I don’t get it.  In fact, NPR, “Put Away the Bell Curve Most of Us Aren’t Average,” and follow up from The Drucker Institute , Curve Ball for the Bell Curve, put the bell curve to task in business.  You can go straight to the source  THE BEST AND THE REST: REVISITING THE NORM OF NORMALITY OF INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE.  But boils down to that there are a few superstars and there is everyone else.  Superstars can be a product, a service, sales to a particular a client, an individual and then everyone else, and sure special care should be taken to nurture this superstars.  Jack Welch originally wanted GE to be #1 or #2 in each market it competed but then back off saying it was taken to “nonsensical levels” by an “insidious bureaucracy.” My experience on the small scale that it is is Organizational Behavior is like playing 3D chess in the 5th Dimension, what motivates people, how you inspire people, how you create a workplace people are fired up to be at and want to work hard to achieve common and uncommon goals.  It would seem to me either Yahoo is a bit backward thinking on this one, or is setting up a framework to clean house.  my bet, they clean house and then they get rid of the ranking system.   Read about the stacking system at Vanity Fair. and their lost decade.

Share

, , , , ,

No Comments

Some Facts: I live in MA. I’m a Biz Owner/Entrepreneur. My Health Insurance Premium Went Down. I Received a Rebate.

File this under ‘other stuff’ but I feel compelled to comment on this.  I am a small business owner/entrepreneur and have been paying my own insurance bill since the 90’s.  I am registered independent and like to think I vote the issues and not the party.  Is it difficult to educate oneself on all of them.  You bet.  Do I try and pick a few that resonate with me and learn more, yes.  And do I sometimes identify more with a party because I hope they are aligned with my ideals and will vote accordingly, well not usually, I seem to be a contrarian by nature.  However, health care effects every one.  I just wanted to point out my experience with the system here in MA.  We have something here called the health connecter and it allows individuals, families, etc. to find and price out all different levels of health care.  I’m a fan of a high deductible PPO, that is pocket the money you would pay if you were in a first dollar coverage plan for a rainy day, or to build a ‘savings’ account that would cover the deductible, and if you are relatively healthy you can continue to pocket the difference, if you need, it’s there to cover you.  Unfortunately, over the last couple of years we ran right into that deductible because of health issue that effects too many, the ‘C’ word.   However, we were covered.  And while I thought that we would get bumped into a high risk coverage pool or somehow our premiums might balloon.  Imagine this, my annual premium went down this year, and I received a rebate because in Massachusetts, Insurance companies must spend 88% of premiums on health care, and mine did not, hence, rebate.

As a business owner I am a bit skeptical of any government state or federal mandating something, and when I look at the mandate to spend 88% of my premium it gives me pause, however, weren’t these companies essentially set up to achieve economies of scale and release doctors of the burden of the paperwork, back office, etc. so if essentially they are a pass through, and a non-profit at that, it starts to make more sense.

What happened if I wasn’t covered.  While it’s been awhile to pull on my economics minor from under grad, here’s my take.  We pay out of pocket for the mammogram and subsequent testing.  If I could not afford it, do we let the disease fester?  It gets worse and we enter the health care system in worse shape requiring emergency room visits, and acute medical care that is far more expensive?  And if we could not pay for that, and the care, that ‘loss’ gets passed on to paying customers anyway in the from of higher premiums to cover the imbalance of ‘paying’ customers and ‘non-paying’.  Fact is, if people use the emergency room for medical care it is far more expensive than a visit to a doctor’s office, however, in the emergency room they are legally bound not to turn anyone away, so who pays for it?  The people who are already paying.  Is it too much to ask that everyone should pay?  is the real argument should it be at the state or federal level?  The fact that one party cloaks as a ‘freedom’ issue seems to be specious at best.  The government mandates a whole load of stuff for the public’s health, clean air, clean water, seat belt laws, anti-dumping, etc. so for me that doesn’t hold water.

The Republican Party when it seemed to stand for fiscal prudence was one I could get more behind, and in fact, the individual mandate which I am sure many of you know, was originally a Republican idea, but now, somehow it’s toxic.  It was proposed by Stuart Butler  from The Heritage Foundation in ‘Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans.” and it was also taken up by Bob Dole during his presidential run as an anti dote to the Clinton administration first crack at universal health care.  Whatever happened to Republicans coming up with something seemingly better, or even a different plan, than at least we can start an argument that A) Health Care Good and B) We look at it differently but how do we come up with a plan so all of us can get to A).  I have to imagine every American is sick of this, lousy pun not entirely intended. So if we are sick and tired of this let’s just cut off all their funding, hello tea party.

However, the fact remains is that everyone who does already pay into the health care system is picking up the slack for everyone else who doesn’t and so the health care providers would simply charge high and higher premiums, so does it not make sense to have more people paying in the system, have more preventive care, than acute care?  Well, at least for this sample of one, it does.  My premiums went down for the first time ever.  That’s either a miracle or a better system than the previous one, or probably a bit of both.

Update 1:

There is an excellent article in Forbes, I should have referenced earlier.  In it there are rebuttals of the individual mandate and The Heritage Foundation as well as, Stuart Butler running as far and fast away from the individual mandate as possible.

Share

No Comments

Start Up Poison…Hubris

This happens in all organizations but is quicker to be fatal in a start up than a bigger organization just like a Cobra biting, say a Dingo; compared to an elephant.  And for those of you who might write me to say that a Dingo would not be found in the same place as a cobra, well, it’s fun to say dingo.  However,  I have presented at conferences where the main component was the introduction of new software;  the company was Autodesk and the software was Revit.   When it came time for the Autodesk Revit folk to present, they immediately threw Autocad under the bus saying Revit was the future and you were a dope if you did not adopt it.  Never mind that almost the entire room was filled with Autocad users that had made large investments in software and workflows around Autocad but essentially they were calling them idiots.  Instead of showing them a migration path to the new stuff, success stories, improved work flows, the presentation was feature driven and how Revit kicks ass.  As a consumer of the software  instead of thinking wow BIM is the future and the future is Revit.  I might come out and say BIM is the future, these guys are jackweeds and now is the time to look at all my BIM options.

From a start up perspective, this is deadly.  If you are trying to get people to adopt new software and create new works flows around it calling someone a dope in words, deeds or attitude is like putting five in the chamber before spinning.   To illustrate here is the basic example which happened recently.  The start up is getting a bit of traction, some pilots are coming on line and they take that small amount of validation as confirmation of their business plan, software, work… inevitability  and the ego starts to inflate.  Listen, getting any amount of validation when you are a start up is awesome, you are usually working in a closet with the sheer belief in yourself as fuel so enjoy it but generally it means you now need to double down on your work because a new round of expectations.  However, I continue to see “wow we were right all along, here it comes.”  So through this conversation I heard “this guy is an idiot he does not understand what we are trying to do.”  Okay but this guy is the one who is managing the pilot and he was probably put in charge because he is skeptical and really needs to be ‘wowed’ if you hope to attain any more traction rather that treating him like an idiot because you and your widget is inevitable.  The founding team switches gears from gathering key advisors, creating consensus, etc. to treating people like sub-contractors such as, you want to get on the bus you can take it or leave it but we need your input by tomorrow or we’re moving on.’  So now it feels like they are selling used cars,” offer is good today”, “you want the undercoating?” and the things that got them to that stage start getting dropped because now they feel like they deserve it.   And work and information that use to flow to them because of their eagerness to learn starts to dry up.  I have seen this happen multiple times and the next stage is, okay how about for your work and effort I will give you piece of my ego filled balloon and at this point, most of the time, it is too late.  They have burned through their initial contacts, industry experts, etc. and now they believe, wrongly, that a piece of the pie will motivate/re-motivate people when in fact that equity piece if sincere should have been offered up front to engage and motivate not as a life raft from the sinking ship.

Compare this to a recent post from Andrew Chen, “Why you always think your product is shit.” Which I thought was a great post and you should make the jump but the crux of it is, if you really care about what you are creating, you will never be satisfied because it can always do more; be more.  He uses a trip to and anecdotes from Pixar to make his point.  How many of you who have seen a Pixar movie ever seen a technological flaw in the process?  Not me, it’s always been magic.  From Andrew’s post, quoting Matt Silas of Pixar about the movies, ” … when you are watching the movie, you can see all the flaws, and it isn’t until you see the faces of your friends and family that you start to forget them.”  That’s what you work for, that’s what drives you, you believe your work can be transformative, you are not “The” shit, you are because you give a shit, you care, you wants things to be better. You’re an artist, you’re an entrepreneur.

Share

,

No Comments

Prompt Payment now a Law in Massachusetts : Hooray for Sanity

I read this awhile ago, but thought it important enough to post and probably repeat everyday.  Everyone has dealt with 90+, 120+, 180+ day receivables and if anything that kills a project, kills morale, and passes on costs to others more than being held up for payment I’d like to hear it, but busting your hump on a project and paying your team, your insurance, etc, and delivering a project, service, goods on time and then having to wait forever?  Who decided this was good business except some CFO or accountant who noticed his operational or investment portion of the balance sheet firmed up when they held everyone out for days on end and helped his/her margins?  So with sanity in mind let me post and repeat:

Governor Signs Construction Prompt Payment Legislation Into Law

Governor Deval Patrick signed into law new legislation prescribing language on pay applications, payment flow, change orders and suspension of work for non-payment on August 10.  The bill, filed by Associated Subcontractors (ASM) and supported by the trade unions passed the House on July 8 and passed the Senate on July 31, the last day of the legislative session.

You can see the press release on the AGC web site… hooray for sanity.

Share

, , ,

No Comments

My UnConference : Better late than never : MassTLC

My UnConference –  because in the end isn’t it really all about me.  The conference itself, for those who have not attended one, is an organic affair with participants suggesting their own topics for break out suggestions, entrepreneurs, VCs, attorneys, consultants, marketing pros, members of the 4th estate are all sharing the same oxygen, and for the most part, looking to connect. What I find most challenging going to ‘high tech’ conferences is that although my company is producing software for the AECO (Architectural Engineering Construction Owner) Community, and although this is technically one of the biggest industry in the world at $4.5 trillion give or take some billions, what it is not is web 3.0, cloud, crowd sourcing, SaaS platform, which makes it intrinsically unsexy in these parts so finding people that ‘digitizing buildings’ or ‘capturing the built environment’ resonates with is few and far between. However, what it does do is let me practice honing my message so it does resonate more with people not in the industry and still let’s me connect with pros who have had experience with developing software, dealing with VARs (Value Added Resellers), valuing companies in all stages, etc. so regardless if you meet the right person, you’ll have to work hard not to learn something.

I was lucky enough to get some one-on-one time with Sim Simeonov from Fast Ignite, and James Gerhsweiller from Common Angels. My approach when speaking to them, which came in 20 minute blocks, was here’s a lot what I don’t know about, I need a 20 minute lesson, go. I asked Sim about the top things I could do when dealing with and developing a VAR network. I asked James how Vela Systems, a portfolio company of Common Angels, was finding success in the AECOM industry and how do you value a pre-revenue company, all good things.

I also saw Curt Nickisch, from NPR, with a mini boom microphone and struck up a conversation saying that I think we could start a cloud computing company by doing anything you do on the desktop today and stick an ‘ify’ on the back end, see chargify, shopify, backupify, asking Curt what he did a lot of, ‘audio editing’ he replied, “audiofy”, I replied, “stream audio to the cloud in real time for web sites, editing, etc.”, not sure if that’s going to catch on though.

What I find most exciting is connecting with other entrepreneurs because starting a business is a lot like going off the high dive, and hearing people’s stories about how they climbed the ladders, making the jump is inspiring, maddening, and takes its own sort of person. In fact, I suggested my own break up room which I titled ‘The Room of Futility” – sharing your mistakes so others can learn, because while hopefully we call learn form mistakes were not always shouting from the roofs so everyone knows about them, and as an entrepreneur we usually remain sometimes unrealistically optimistic and learn and move on without documenting it. One of the top things that came out and brought to the front by Nicolas, was ‘unwritten agreements’ which truly will bite in you in the ass every time, could be an equity split, strategic partnership, whatever, but get it in writing, expect the best, plan for the worst. Also I find speaking with founders, let’s you drop your guard, you’re not giving an elevator pitch, you’re not trying to impress, or raise money, your sharing ideas, and to me getting things out in the open sparks more connections and innovations than keeping it close because you think it’s genius. The fact of the matter is that everyone has good ideas, and I mean everyone, very few will execute, so get it out there an start iterating and making connections. So of the many people I met, Seth, who has internet in a box for a tradeshows, appropriately called Tradeshow Internet, which I thought was a great idea. Having set up tradeshows and being bowled over at the laundry lists of costs this seems to be a homerun. For example, oh, you want electricity in the booth, ummn, yeah, that’s $650 for a duplex, you want internet, $1200, Seth will deliver you a box, plug n’ play, internet enabled for 4 computers, boom, when your done, put it back in the box, slap the prepaid sticker on it, done, your internet at the tradeshow for 15% of the cost of getting it the traditional way, bang, that works. I met Mike, who’s son had developed an app that tracks speed based on the roads your on and can report back to you if your kid, your wife, your dog, is speeding, even better they have a fleet app that tracks, logs, driving performance, that can be used with insurance companies to drop insurance rates if they are doing the speed limit on a regular basis, awesome. Met the founder of drupal, Dries who’s for profit company, Acquia, seems to be going great, we spoke a bit about organizational behavior, and how important it is, something that escaped me in business school, and he told me that he still interviews any candidate that they are hiring, he might be the last one to interview and they already went through many hoops to finally get in front of Dries, but helps insure that they are getting the people most aligned with Dries vision.

And almost lastly, we were asked at the end of the session to write on yellow cards to finish the sentence, at unconference…….., and I wrote “I met the people I was supposed to”, and I need to relate this story. I mentioned that it’s sometimes difficult to find people who my particular business might resonate with, although it’s being teed up as an energy modeling tool and getting a bigger response, but at the very beginning of the session we were asked to turn around and introduce ourselves to those around us, I turned around and introduced myself to Kairos Shen, who is the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and probably the only one at the conference who I could say, ‘we enable people to digitize buildings’ and then follow up with ‘we help capture the built environment for energy modeling and existing conditions’ and he automatically gets it, who replies with, that’s awesome, because so much happens downstream that having accurate plans, accurate models, can help short circuit problems, save time, save money, etc. and I am thinking man what a great way to start a conference, and then Kairos follows up with, ‘You’re the guy Bill wanted me to to meet.’ Bill Warner is a tornado, he started Avid, started Wildfire, and to my mind has stuck a turbo charger on the whole community of business starting, and turned up the oxygen, among so many initiatives he is the force behind the unConference, and the fact that beyond doing all this, he is reaching down that far through all the attendees, and matching people up, holy sh*8, you know how sometimes we find people who are perfectly suited to what they are doing, maybe a teacher, rec director, etc. and you feel lucky you met up with them, well we’re lucky Bill is driving this bus, because he is awesome at it.

Share

, ,

1 Comment

Business Rant : One of Many: #BIM #AIA

30%, that’s the figure that keeps coming back to me, business is down 30% and competitive bids are 30% less than what they used to be.  I even had firms we do business with in India essentially say, “I am not going down the rathole.” You have got to be creative to deal with it.  It reminds of a an accounting professor in business school who extolled, “all costs are variable,” not really but you get the point.  Renegotiate rents, bargain with your workforce, create partnerships to fill holes, man it stretches the imagination which is good, however there is no reality like payroll, and rent, and insurance, etc.  There was a recent article in the Las Vegas Business Press, “From Boom to Bust,” that echoes these themes.  One GC stated that, ‘Our revenue in 2010 will be slightly less than half of what it was in 2008.” Bidders on projects have multiplied by 3, and successful bids seemed to be 40% below 2008 highs.

“Cash flow is the king during a recession,” Perini Building Co. Vice Chairman Dick Rizzo said. “As the economy shrinks, prompt payment is important. In some cases, it’s the only source of income to subcontractors and vendors.”  This statement brings me to my next point, when did we ever, and architecture firms I am looking at you, get to a point where this statement is the norm, ‘you get paid when we get paid.’  Holy $$$$.  This is patently ridiculous.  There was a good article in the Boston Business Journal that said free lancers and sub contractors are spending as much time tracking down payments and getting paid as they did on the actual project.  So looking at that vice of lower winning bids and taking forever to get paid what’s a small business to do?  You can whine about it, not much help, or try and figure it out.  I don’t even say make lemonade from lemons, this is strictly survive than thrive.  To the ‘you get paid when we get paid’ again who ever agreed to that, but if your on the short end of that scenario consider starting a relationship with a factor, otherwise known a receivable financing, different companies specialize for different industries and even by size of receivables but there is one out there for you.  They will take 1-3 points monthly but nothing like cash flow.  As for some of the advice you get such as put penalties in your contract, talk directly to payroll, etc. most them will stay with the partly line, and a lot replace contracts you may have put together with their own which certainly does not have any late payment penalties.

As for multiple bidders and reduced winning bids, know your costs, use BIM, be ready for hard bids.  It’s telling that GCs are the early adopters to BIM, Revit and the like and embracing their 4D and 5D aspects.

Partner up, can you still offer the same level or service as you could in 2008?  Can you offer more today?  More companies may be more willing to work together.  Like I tell my kids, ‘the answer is always no unless you ask.’

Share

, ,

No Comments

Synchronous Lateral Excitation: What?! Get out of the Box, Get Back in the Box and Ride It.

So for fun I was reading this article on Synchronous Lateral Excitation, okay I am kidding I wasn’t doing it for fun but the author used the opening of the millennium bridge to make a point that that people created a synchronous feedback loop, think walking in lock step, that made the bridge start to sway uncomfortably, the bridge was then closed for 2 years as the figured out and solved the problem.  The author, Josh Cassidy, then went on to use this analogy for the capital markets and how it makes them crash prone.   Like a continuous self reinforcing feedback loop that makes them inherently more stable, as one bank stops lending, individually sounds prudent, as a group they shut down the credit markets, companies sell assets to raise money, one company selling assets to raise money, okay, everyone doing it floods the market with assets, whether stocks, bonds, etc and the value of these assets then decline, and get on for another round.

I then read something about Google, remember they do no evil, see #6 but their argument for mining as much personal data from you as humanly possible, even if it is done under the cloak on anonymity, is to give you results that are tailored to you.  That is when you search for cars, they might serve you not just generic information about cars, but they certainly will give you adwords based on cars, and maybe they even tailor it to Volvo because they new you were searching about Sweden earlier in the day, or maybe because of your web wake the found you to be ‘like minded’ with another sub-group that not only liked Volvos but were liberal democrats, or made the assumption because of the visits to Green Peace web site, and because of that when you searched for things began to serve your choices based on earlier predilections and habits, which to me is no different than synchronous lateral acceleration, that is if someone groups you with others that are like minded and that’s the info you get, this self reinforcing feedback loops only serves to bolster whatever view point you came in with.  (sidebar: I think the argument that it is anonymous is specious at best because although they do not, supposedly you are Bob living in Topeka, they know exactly who you are on the internet, I’m not arguing good or bad here just the anonymity angle).

So getting back to the ‘box’ in the titile.  What getting out of the box to me means is take in other view points, speak to  other people go to a tradeshow, presentation, meeting, forum, etc. that has people not in your industry, just to see what people are doing, problems they are facing, solutions they are using, and you start getting a better perspective, interesting how this whole crowd sourcing thing is taking off, which could be viewed as a way to compress this type of interaction.  But getting out of the box does not mean show up to work in clown clothes but rather how can we think differently about a problem, how do we bring a new perspective, and just getting out and talking to people in different venues starts to help, or e-mail, blogs, forums, and it gets too easy to stay in your comfort zone, and I’m guilty myself.  Next time getting on the plan pick up a magazine or paper you’ve never read before any maybe never had any intention of reading again, see what you get out of it.  Maybe you won’t get anything out of it, or maybe you’ll just see a cool ad for a volvo.

As for being in the box and ride it, how do we pick up on this momentum or recognize this momentum shift, internet bubble, real estate bubble, and we all know there will be another bubble, and what are you going to do about it.  It shouldn’t be, ‘I’ve seen this before and I’m not playing’ it should be how best to take advantage of this without being standing when the music stops, or not even that, it’s how can I play and not be stupid to buy into it.  Like during the internet bubble when I saw an interview with a young guy who owned the domain, and I think it was pantyhose.com, and for the millionth time I hear someone say, you know how big the pantyhose market is, I am going to be the Amazon of pantyhose, I think I knew right there that the music stopped.  Hopefully we can all be bright enough to do both.

Share

, ,

No Comments

Revit: As a Service? BIM As a Service? | SaaS

I read this morning through a linkedin update of an individual/firm that  is running Revit on a 16-core Intel i7 Xeon 2.67GHz, 1GB Video Card, 12GB RAM workstation, and was asking if anyone was interested in using it for design/rendering/etc.  I guess this was only a matter of time, but it begs the question of SaaS entering the AEC Software Marketplace.  AutoDesk has Dragonfly that allows to export directly into a Revit format.  I am not sure who the target user is for this, although they mention that “it can streamline your next home improvement. ”  Again is the regular home user or enthusiast going to pick up dragonfly for an improvement project?  Or is some who has a visualization program going to change workflows or programs to use Dragonfly?  Or better is it Autodesk trying to work the kinks out of what could become a full blown SaaS (Software as a Service) effort?  Certainly, they have to be thinking of this, especially when everyone can spit out SaaS or Cloud Computing fast enough to show they are with it.

What would the pricing model look like, free, freemium, premium, etc?  I think it would be important from a data point of view, not a legal who owns the data point of view, but imagine actually  having data stored centrally, and  and then the building becomes the OS (operating system) and everyone adds value to the building through analysis and management, and 3rd parties writing apps, etc. Not that does not happen now, but it in the standard software, mostly stand alone, environment.  Cracking this nut open as a marketplace, interesting to ponder.  ANd it could bring a whoel new vitality to the marketplace beyond the current BIM movement. Keep an eye out on Dragonfly it might just tell us.

Share

, ,

No Comments

In Defense of Craftsmanship

“Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work” by Matthew B. Crawford was recently released by Penguin.  An excellent review from Kelefa Sanneh in the New Yorker was just in a recent addition of the New Yorker, and who’s review prompted this post.  While I have only read excerpts from the book the ideas certainly resonated with me.  The book is expanded from an article in The New Atlantis both the article and the book explore the idea of craftsmanship and how modernday office workers are so far removed from actual products they lose pride in there work.  He also argues that physical labor or “manual competence” is a key ingredient in craftsmanship, and who’s appreciation for how hard it can be to do something right forms a bridge or creates social currency between other craftsmen, generations and in general, people and the lack of it divorces us from our work, and then arguably, people.  Here he quotes Alexandre Kojève.

The man who works recognizes his own product in the World that has actually been transformed by his work: he recognizes himself in it, he sees in it his own human reality, in it he discovers and reveals to others the objective reality of his humanity, of the originally abstract and purely subjective idea he has of himself.

With the lack of manual competence and its social currency, the only thing we then have to rely on is hard currency, which may or may not be the best yardstick for measuring worth, or more importantly self-worth.  And while he goes on to argue why manual competence gives someone pride, connectedness and self-worth it is a point brought up by the review that I found even more compelling and he used a book by Alain de Botton, “The Pleasures and Sorrow of Work,” to illuminate a corollary and here I will quote directly from the review, as I can do no better at summarizing it.

“…when de Botton tours a biscuit factory in Belgium, he starts with mockery: ‘Grief was the only rational response to the news that an employee had spent 3 months devising a supermarket promotion based on an offer of free stickers of cartoon characters called the Fimbles.’ Then he thinks better of it and decided that, with a little imagination, it is possible to the the biscuit factory as an ennobling place:

The manufacture and promotion of all these (products) was no game, but rather an attempt to subsist which was no less grave, and threfore no less worthy of respect and dignity, than a boar hunt on whose successful conclusion the fate of an entire primitive community might have once have hung.  For if a new wrapping machine did not operate as efficiently as anticipated, or if a slogan failed to capture the imagination of shoppers, there would be no escape from shutters houses and despair in the suburbs…

So to me the bigger question is how can everyone maintain this ‘pride’ that Crawford argues so compellingly about?  From my own experience I know doing the right thing and the expedient thing are sometimes at the opposite sides of the spectrum, but certainly not mutually exclusive.  I also know that one of my best summer jobs was building fences, and it had many of the elements that Crawford points out, manual competence, skill, the belief that what I was building would last and be appreciated by others.  However, I can find that appreciation in other people and products, for example the fact that I never owned an ipod, and not so much that it looked slick but worked slick really impressed.  Or that my car has a built in umbrella holder in the side of the door that drains outdoors I find slick, and slicker still that when I opened the door and looked in, there was an umbrella there.  I appreciate the fact someone took the time to think about these things.  With my own work,  I always feel that it is our job to remove headaches and if we do it well it will be appreciated somewhere down the line.  By the architect who can readily go to work on design, or by the construction manager who realizes that the as-builts or BIM is spot on and can then work faster or more efficiently.  I can’t say how people may find it in their own work, but I can say it is there somewhere, and it is appreciated.

One of things in response to my profession, building surveying, that we have done is form the APBS (Association of Professional Building Surveyors) so we can create a certification for professionals who can take pride in their own work, and by forming our ‘guild’ let others know that when they receive our work that they can have faith in it.  Now this sounds pretty mundane compared to a guy who has his own motorcycle repairshop, as that is Crawford’s profession, and I must say does not sound as cool but to me it’s the same concept.  One note that is completely similar is that Crawford argues craftsmanship cannot be outsourced, that is when you need your car fixed, a new bathroom put in or bookshelves made, someone has to come to your house.  Well, surveying the built environment, same argument.

Share

No Comments