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Put your hands on it

One of the most important lessons I have ever learned in my career was from a senior maintenance and turnaround manager named Don.

As a young project engineer working in an oil refinery my role was to engineer small expense projects and develop job packages for execution by our in house maintenance department. Don was responsible for executing these expense jobs.

The first time I hand delivered a job package to Don he asked me these very simple and important words – “did you put your hands on the job?” What he meant by this was - did I walk the job out in the field before engineering the job and putting together the job package for execution. 

As you may have guessed, I didn’t walk the job out and as a result there errors in design and obstacles that prevented proper execution and construction.

I quickly learned later that Don was one of the most respected employees in the refinery and now I understood why – he was a practical hands-on person that walked every job out in the field before doing anything else.

Since that lesson over 36 years ago, I have never engineered, designed, planned, or made decisions about any job until I “put my hands on it”. What a great lesson for us all.