Sharpening Your Thinking Through Writing

Contractors can learn many lessons from the leadership principles of Hyman G. Rickover who is considered the “Father of the Nuclear Navy.”

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These lessons include:

  1. Relentless focus on safety being engineered into the system at all levels.
  2. Unorthodox talent management practices including his selection process that achieved massive engineering and construction feats with brand new technologies.  
  3. Rigorous controls on designs and schedules through effective information flow.  

His focus on forcing his team to put nearly everything into writing developed a discipline of thought throughout a relatively new team.  

Quote: Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page. Hyman G. Rickover.

He built a culture where arguments were openly challenged with candor that allowed the best ideas to win and plans to be tightened up. Jack Welch used similar tactics at General Electric.  

Toyota and the lean body of knowledge leverage this principle in the A3 Reporting process that forces both concise writing as well as team communication.    

Contractors can utilize these principles in:

  • Vision, Mission, Values (Behaviors)
  • Strategic and Tactical Business Plans
  • Organizational Structure & Integrated Job Role Missions
  • Workflows & Process Documentation
  • Project Plans & Feedback Systems

Be Specific About Problems
The business of construction is filled with constant problems. It’s not that great contractors don’t have problems, it's that great contractors have learned how to troubleshoot first, which allows them to learn from their problems faster.
Leadership and Management of Details
Building a great contracting business requires the right balance of leadership and management. While it is possible to separate them the truth is that many of the top leaders are relentlessly disciplined managers.
A Business Exists to Serve a Customer
Without satisfied and growing customers, nothing else a contractor does will matter. Few things are more profitable for contractors than recurring work negotiated with a select group of project owners.