Episode: 92 |
Will Bachman:
Eyeballs on the Job Site:


Will Bachman

Eyeballs on the Job Site

Show Notes

In which the Engineer Officer told me that he expected me to get out of the wardroom and put my eyeballs on the jobsite. The lesson has carried over to my consulting career.

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

As a young Ensign, during the first few weeks after I ported to my submarine, I thought that a Senior Lieutenant called Roger was the most impressive division officer on board. And then the engineer officer told me that I was totally wrong. Hey, welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. So Roger was the most senior division officer on my submarine when I arrived, he was a couple months away from leaving the boat to go to shore duty. As I was studying to get qualified, I noticed that Roger knew the boat so well, from his 14 months on board, that when he was ship’s duty officer, he could run the whole day, the whole ship from the wardroom and watchstanders would come in for Roger to review their logs and give permission and sign off. So chief petty officers would come in to get a tag out signed or for permission to begin some work on maintenance. And I could see that Roger knew all the systems of the ship backwards and forwards, he had seen every maintenance evolution before. And he could visualize every task and progress from the bow to the stern. So I mentioned to the engineer officer one day how impressed I was by Roger. And the ENTJ, who I mentioned had also just arrived a few months earlier, told me that Roger is the laziest officer on board, it isn’t worth my time to change his behavior, since he’s about to leave the ship, and expect to be getting out of the Navy after his shore duty. So as duty officer, the edge continued, I expect you to get out there in the spaces and put your eyeballs on the job. No matter how many times you’ve seen it before. This is you can’t effectively supervise work and ensure the safety of the crew, unless you get out of your chair and go take a look at it yourself. So that was what the ENTJ told me. Some important life lessons don’t come during a dramatic crisis, or the capstone lecture of a course. But in an ordinary conversation, and that discussion with the engineer made a significant impact on how I approached my job as a submarine officer, but also as a consultant. When I got out of the Navy, I heard the engineer’s message loud and clear, it was my responsibility to personally go take a look at the job site. And in the Navy, I learned that my mental ideal of the work that was about to happen in the engine room didn’t always match reality, putting eyeballs on the job, sometimes you’d get dirty climbing down in the bilge, or get hot and sweaty climbing up on top to look at something on top of the steam turbines. But you might find something you might find that there was no way the work could be done safely right now, or that the you didn’t have the right tools, or that you didn’t have the right safety observers or that the equipment wasn’t calibrated, or that the workers hadn’t had enough sleep, and were just not really physically prepared to do the work. Once I found some workers from the tender, they had started to shut up their worksite. And I didn’t recognize them. And I asked what they were doing. And they said, cutting out some valves they were preparing is setting up to cut into a high pressure lube system, lube oil system that they thought was tagged out and depressurized, but they were on the wrong submarine. Now, I don’t know if they would have actually cut into it. But that was not a good situation. So as a consultant, my bias was always to go and look at the front line first, to understand the work being done, and this is not always been embraced by clients or partners. Sometimes you get a question about if that’s really a good investment of time, or we’ve already done a diagnostic. My very first consulting project when I was a new business analyst was around analyzing the profitability of checking accounts. And I asked like, Hey, could I go talk to the associates who work at the branch? Just ask them how they get customers to sign up to these checking accounts and the type of questions that customers ask, though I wasn’t given permission, but I eventually sneaked out during a lunch hour, I just felt I couldn’t provide any kind of useful ideas about a product that I didn’t understand at all, and had never seen the place where it was sold, or talked to people who had sold it. So I learned when when we in the team room had assumed was a non shopped fee that we were considering raising is actually a fee that customers did regularly complain about, and when they complained to cause a lot of time and hassle at the branch and occasionally led to the customer leaving for another business. in frustration, or in other cases, a lot of times the bank waive that fee anyways, so, so actually raising the fee, we didn’t actually ever capture that revenue just annoyed the customer. So another project or team was supposed to improve the operations of a call center, based on the metrics mainly. And the statement of work only called for us to spend two hours actually listening to the customer service rep to taking calls. The client was reluctant to pay expensive consultants to just sit around and listen to calls. He asked like, what do you hope to find, but the whole point is, we don’t know what we’re gonna find and that’s why we want to do it. So go visit the frontline. I’d love to hear your stories about getting out of the metaphorical wardroom and going to put your eyeballs on the job site. Love to hear about it, you can email me at unleashed@umbrex.com and if you visit our website, you can sign up for our weekly email and get the transcripts of every episode. Plus and bonus features right to your inbox and that’s at umbrex.com slash Unleashed. Unleashed is produced by Umbrex. And thanks for listening

Related Episodes


Author of Imposter No More

Jill Stoddard


Author of For Profit: A History of Corporations

William Magnuson


Commercial Leadership Roles in Professional Services Firms

Scott Ratliff


How Expert Networks Can Add Value to Primary Research

Ammad Ahmad