I learned a leadership lesson about collaboration and design this morning.

The store where I buy birdseed is on a corner. Think small streets, not like a busy city intersection. The primary street has been dug down to dirt, and the contractor is in the process of laying cement pavement, walks, and gutters. The little store built from an old grain elevator has a drive built from pavers.

As Bruce was watching work progress, he noticed that they had raised a manhole three inches. Sure enough, they raised the sidewalk three inches. That meant that if they laid the pavers back where they were, there would be a three-inch drop from the traffic entrance/sidewalk to his drive.

When the engineer came one morning to look at progress, Bruce went out and asked him about that. The contractor said, no problem, I can build that up, make a grade and replace the pavers.

So Bruce asked, what about my neighbor’s drive?

Hmmm. They had built themselves a problem that snowballed as they looked down the street.

Who designed this? Bruce asked. I did, the city engineer replied. Well, guess you messed up, Bruce replied.

If only the engineer had gotten up from the CAD station, walked the one block to the site and asked people about the design, he would have avoided what might be a costly mistake.

The same concept applies to mechanical design, hardware design, and software design. Oh, and to leadership.

Get away from your desk. Wander around. Ask people for ideas and feedback.

Share This

Follow this blog

Get a weekly email of all new posts.