Slow down to speed up

Kelly, Vice President for a sheet metal company in Clackamas, Oregon, told session three of the Leadership Development Lab

“Back in fall 2007 while with my former employer an opportunity arose to perform a large demo project for Solar World at the old Kumatsu plant in Hillsboro, Oregon. It was a large, fast-paced, bid job with more than the usual severe risk and damage clauses. I knew we could do the work! While I was putting the bid together I saw that we needed to be creative in our approach. We needed to somehow differentiate ourselves from the other contractors who would likely take a conventional approach in trying to secure the work.

“So, on a stormy Saturday morning I had all the bid request job details spread out on my living room floor trying to figure out the best way to put the bid together. One of the most challenging aspects of this job was figuring out how we would dispose of the enormous amounts of scrap metal the demo would generate.

The idea occurred to me of using a portable car crusher to compact and dispose of all of the scrap metal including old hangers, duct pipe, and so on. This would allow us to contain waste, control litter, and simplify removing scrap from the site. My bid also included a provision that the first $10,000 from recycling scrap metals was donated back to the client as a value engineering idea.

We won the job and we used the portable car crusher. The car compactor saved us countless man hours of material handling and disposal costs to help us be more competitive, successful, and efficient.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is when faced with unique and challenging opportunities, move outside the box. The car crusher ‘beat the bid’ idea may have never come to me sitting in my chair at my desk in the office. Try to envision how other industries and businesses would solve your problem and innovative ideas will come. I discovered ‘When I challenge myself, creative ideas come to me.’

“The action I call you to take is change your surroundings, allow yourself time and permission to brainstorm, explore alternative responses, and exercise the courage to think outside the box.

“The benefit you will gain is your creative juices will kick in and you are more likely to come up with cost-crushing, better ideas that will leave your competitors behind scratching their heads.”

Kelly has given us the challenge of breaking out of conventional thinking. What ever the best practices of your industry are today, they were created by breaking paradigms and now are thought of as best practices. They may not be best practices tomorrow. Someone will find a better way. If you will trust yourself and be open to the crushing ideas your team bring to you, you will set the new norm. And in the process make record setting profits.

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