This report is going to follow two diverse streams which converge to make one river of thought. The first stream has to do with an encounter on a modern city sidewalk and the second with a look at the building of a medieval castle.
Building high rise office structures
On Tonya’s and my recent trip to Salt Lake City, we had occasion to walk from the convention center to a nearby grocery store. Therefore, we passed through a covered sidewalk which was designed to allow foot traffic to pass safely by a project under construction. As we walked, we noticed three construction workers scurrying past us in the opposite direction. I, being that kind of tourist, asked, “What are you building?”
The quick response from the fellow in the lead was, “America, one building at a time!”
Both Tonya and I were elated with his answer.
In addition, may I suggest if the people on your crew answer the same way, you’re likely doing something right.
Building an ancient castle in the twenty-first century
Castles aren’t easy to come by these days. Come to think of it, they never were.
For instance, there is this interesting project going on now in France. The folks involved are building a medieval castle with the tools and techniques of the 13th century. The building is expected to be completed in 2023.
An interesting finish date, considering the project first broke ground in 1997. Not bad for a project which, from its inception, was expected to take a quarter of a century to complete.
This castle isn’t to live in. This castle is a classroom in progress.
“Guédelon is the world’s biggest experimental archaeological site – and some would say the most ambitious too.”
In other words, stonemasons, blacksmiths, carpenters, woodcutters, tilers, rope-makers, dyers, the builders of the castle seem to look at their part of the project in two ways. For the first way they discuss what they’ve learned. Then, in the second, how proud they are to have been able to contribute.
The streams converge
Above all, what strikes me concerning these two stories is the pride these builders take in their work. Whether the answer is, “I’m building a castle,” or “America, one building at a time,” the question is always out there – what do you do? Where do you work?
Building the answer into your company culture, helping employees see how their contribution matters isn’t always easy. Yet it is worth it.
And, the key is to inspire.
As a result, this is where the river begins to flow.
It is a crazy idea which the folks naming military operations have used successfully for a few years now. Don’t get me wrong, it was they who got it wrong many times along the way until they began to understand how useful the nicknames they used for their operations could be. This article, Naming Military Operations is a War of Words, from the USO website is lengthy, yet quite informative concerning the power of a name.
Building great names to encourage your team
The simply corollary for you as a commercial construction business owner is to use the art of naming projects in such a way as to shape perceptions, boost morale, and reinforce policy objectives. It is a subtle yet effective way to encourage your employees to “own” the importance of each project.
Here are some examples, so you can see what I mean.
You could call your job building the new emergency hospital by the hospital’s name (and bore your staff) or you could use the name “Mission Life Saver.”
If your crew is providing work on the new Mercedes Benz dealership, consider naming the job “Project Hot Wheels.” Or, you might try “Mission Luxurious Rides.”
Did you get the grocery store contract? Think about calling it “Project Nourishment.”
3 ways to find memorable names
- If you’re into word play and developing great project names – do it yourself.
- Perhaps there is someone in your office or on your crews who would enjoy providing the names – give them the privilege. Do you have word-wise teens at home? Give them the task.
- Ask your team members for suggestions – then choose the best one. Or combine a few of the suggestions to come up with the top name.
Another way to use the nicknaming strategy
You can use the same strategy of nicknaming for your in-house projects.
Shop organizing day becomes Operation Thunder.
Documenting office systems can be given the nickname, Project LifeBlood.
And, choosing a new office or shop location might become Mission Possibilities.
You get the idea. The nicknames add an importance level to your various jobs as well as in-house projects.
Building Castles and High Rises and Everything Else
The work you take on in your construction contracting business is important! Be sure your team knows that.
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