If you want to get motivated, I don’t think there’s a better person to listen to than Jocko Willink. He’s a retired commander of the US Navy SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, who also received the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his action in the Iraq War. Basically, he’s as hardcore a person as you can find…anywhere. He’s the type of guy who wakes up at 4:34AM every morning to get a workout in, have some alone time to plan the day and, most importantly, to exercise his discipline muscles. I encourage you to check out his podcast.
In one of his recent talks, I heard him say, “The most important part for you to own as a leader is the outcome…is the end-state. If you are not meeting your end-state, that’s what you have to take ownership of. That’s what you need to make happen.” As an owner of a company this rang true. I want my team to know the results I expect. How they attain those results is largely up to them. I want them to learn, to grow, to make mistakes and to take ownership of their tasks. However, as long as the outcome meets our clients’ needs, I am very happy.
But that also got me thinking about AV Commissioning. (Dang. Am I ever not thinking about AV Commissioning?!) As commissioning agents, we are very focused on the end-state. We are confirming that the client received the system that they expected. We are using the AV9000 checklists as our plan, and we are using the discipline required of us from our Quality Management System, to make this end-state happen.
It may seem like the commissioning and QA teams brought in at the end of projects are “cleaners” of sorts, without being part of the process up to that point. I hear stories from QA guys from several different shops about how they are always struggling to close out jobs. I think their struggle comes because their function is not ingrained throughout the project, and they are tacked on at the end as an afterthought.
Commissioning and QA agents should be driving the team. We have all the answers to the final exam of the project, and we want to share those answers with the entire team from the moment the design is finalized. If the idea of satisfying the commissioning process is internalized by the entire project team, everyone will have a common, known, understood goal. It takes a change of perspective and lots of discipline. However, once it is inherent to your way of doing AV, the projects go smoother. There are less service calls. There is less stress. There is more profit.
One of the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is “Begin with the End in Mind.” He asks people how they want to be remembered after they are gone, to write it down and then treat that as a lifetime goal. The next step is you “simply” live your life to achieve that goal. You already know what you want the end-state to be. Now just do things to make it happen.
That’s how I use the AV9000 checklists and our Quality Management System. They represent “the end” for all our projects. My team understands they are the goal of every project. We have the processes documented on what needs to be done to get there. After that, it just takes discipline to make sure it is done on every project.
Jocko says that discipline is like a muscle: It needs to be exercised, and it can easily atrophy. When you start to run, one lap around the track is daunting. After a few weeks, though, a mile doesn’t seem that bad. It’s the same with AV9000. At the beginning, the tests may seem confusing and never ending. However, once you start working the checklists, things get easier and faster. You trust them. Clients trust you. It’s a good thing.
“Discipline equals freedom.”
“Get after it.”
– Jocko Willink