Published January 14, 2016
Last November, I had a really big “Aha!” moment. It was precipitated by a book that I had read titled, “Work the System” by Sam Carpenter. I don’t remember how I came across the book, but I’m glad I did. Since that time, I have been leading my team to document all of the procedures and systems that go into running our mechanical contracting business. Although, at times it seemed like it would be impossible to accomplish, I can say that we are fast approaching the completion of this project. We’ve identified more than 380 separate procedures in all areas of our company: field operations, finance and administration, client fulfillment and marketing. As of the end of December 2015, we’ve documented more than 280 working procedures. My initial goal was to get everything down in writing by December, and that did not happen. However, I am confident that we can complete them by the end of the first quarter of 2016. After that, we will have a system in place to review our procedures and look for improvements. The Japanese have a term for this: “Kaizen” or continuous improvement.
Why am I telling you this? Because the process of beginning to document procedures began with the opening paragraph of PSI’s Strategic Objective. It reads like this:
Piping Systems, Inc. (PSI) is a high-performance piping contractor specializing in the installation of the following types of systems: Heating, Cooling, Fire Sprinkler Systems, Plumbing and Process Piping, including steam, water, air, gas and chemical piping. We are authorized holders of the ASME “S” Stamp and the National Board “R” stamp which allows us to perform welded repairs on high-pressure steam vessels under strict quality control procedures. Our service department provides 24/7 emergency service to our existing clients.
The documentation continues with our core beliefs about how a high-performance piping contractor should perform. The most important advantage of having this document is that it provides a road map for decision-making. It is impossible to document everything, but it is possible to ask oneself if a decision will fit within the boundaries of our Strategic Objective.
During this ongoing process, I’ve discovered that it simplifies the difficult decisions that need to be made in order to lead a safe and profitable business. For instance, during the last year, as a result of our strict random drug testing policy, we’ve had to let go of a few people who did not pass the test. Drug use is not acceptable here, for so many reasons, and we know that we cannot be the high-performance contractor as stated in our Strategic Objective if our team members are not at their best. At the same time, this policy helps us attract the brightest and the best in our industry. This is something we’re really excited about.
None of this makes one bit of difference if we don’t have one thing in mind: you, our client. We are dedicated to providing the quality of service and workmanship you want and deserve.
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