W&A Monthly Newsletter, February 2019: I have two riding mowers
By: John Wilson
I have two riding mowers. One, my favorite, is a big-deck, zero turn mower. The other, less used, is a straight-ahead mower with a steering wheel. It’s big advantage is that I can bag the cuttings. Typically, I avoid that, but the need arose, and I went to pull the old mower out of storage.
I hopped in the seat, turned the key, and nothing. It didn’t surprise me because I hadn’t used it in a while. I popped on the battery charger and let it run overnight. The next morning, I took off the charger, hopped in the seat, turned the key, and nothing. Given the time it had sat, I thought dead battery. As I worked to remove it however, starting with the ground, the wrench touched the positive. Nice shower of sparks.
I thought that was too much juice for a dead battery. I tightened the ground connection and checked the positive. It was loose. I thought this was the source of my problem. I tightened it. I hopped in the seat, turned the key, and nothing. It was then that I saw the gear shift was in reverse, because that’s how I’d parked it when I last used it. I popped the shifter into neutral, turned the key and cough, cough the engine started.
For some reason this made me think of checklists, because if I’d been a pilot I’d of had a checklist to go down, and one of the things to call out would be gear shift position. I think I’ll make one to place on the steering wheel. PTO, off. Gear shift, neutral. Foot on brake. Check, check, check. As I thought about checklists, I thought of all the procedures I’ve edited and produced over the years, and how almost all of them would have benefited from checklists.
They’re not much favored in the drilling and completion community of my experience. In fact, there was even a lot of push-back over making the procedures too prescriptive. Something about letting the guys on the rig do their job. I thought that was putting a little too much faith in people’s memories, but I was just an editor.
Still, it seemed odd, and still does, to put so much faith in memory. After all, airline pilots fly almost every day, using the same plane on every route, yet they go through a checklist before they start off so that they don’t forget anything. Granted, forgetting something in a plane can be pretty catastrophic, but so can drilling a well to 25,000-ft in deep water. You miss a little tiny something and you’re hosed. Besides, while the equipment may be the same, that can’t be said for the subsurface. So, it seems following a checklist for tool running, pressure testing, and the like would at least help control the variables that can be controlled, leaving folks to concentrate on the unknown—the subsurface. To be fair, I’ve used some checklist procedures for subsea installations, but that was the exception.
Would checklists be helpful? Possibly. From 2007 to 2017 there were an average of 120 fires and explosions each year in the Gulf with average yearly injuries totaling around 240. That’s a lot of fires and hurt people, and in a universe where time is money, that’s also a lot of down time.
Of course, a well written procedure also has the potential to reduce risk and a lot of non-productive time – time spent searching for the root of an issue caused by a missed step, time spent recalling how things were done “last time,” and time spent debating steps with new crew members, to name a few., not to mention a reduction in distraction that could lead to an injury. So, I guess that would suffice. But I still think a call out checklist would be a best practice beyond compare.
On a personal note, I wasn’t injured by the shower of sparks from my mower’s battery, but I’m feeling pretty good having my new checklist on the steering wheel.
By: John Wilson
We changed our Internet Service Provider (ISP) the other day – decided to go with a local company. When I called big boy to disconnect, they wanted to keep me and started making all sorts of offers based on my long tenure with them. As they offered lower prices and increased bandwidth, my pervading thought was, “So all this time you’ve been overcharging me? Why, if I’m such a valued customer, didn’t you offer me these discounts earlier?”
I demurred and said, no. I asked them what they wanted me to do with their old receiver. They told me to throw it away. Even if I had renewed they would have replaced it with new and better technology. Again, I was struck by the attitude that while I was an old and valued customer I wasn’t valued enough to get the best deals and the best technology without asking.
We’ll see how the new team does. At the moment, it’s just two guys and an office worker running their high-tech business. I can walk over to that office for a visit, and they’ll explain in detail how everything works. That’s nice; it’s personal. The digital service is good, too. Since I increased my bandwidth by 50% and have the latest technology on the roof, things are flying between my home and the electronic world. It’s odd how good that makes you feel.
It still puzzles me, however, why the old provider never made any move to improve my service during our entire relationship. They took my money and let my technical situation gradually degrade over time. They probably saved a few bucks, but in the end, it was a false economy. I left for slightly greener pastures. And that is particularly true with bandwidth. Of all the things they sell, that is the cheapest and easiest to upgrade. It seems to me, in this day and age, a good customer retention program is important, and one way to do it is to ensure your clients are getting value for their dollar.
J. Wilson & Associates, Inc. is a family-run business based in Houston, Texas that can support clients anywhere in the world. It was started by John Wilson and is now under Gabe Wilson’s branch of the family’s stewardship. Very early on John stressed that our reputation is built and maintained on the quality of delivery and the ethics with which we operate. Saying all that sounds like standard corporate speak. The obvious question is what does that mean to you as a customer and to those that work with us? It means accountability: accountability in how we do business and in the solutions we provide and accountability to many of the most important people in our lives. It’s an amazing motivator to treat every interaction according to the company ethos when you know it’s going to be a topic of conversation at meals or on holidays. How many times have you dealt with a supplier and wished you could talk to the people that raised them or the family that sees them after the work day is done? As a customer of J. Wilson & Associates you have that closeness with us, and we have the accountability to deliver. Check out our bios here.
Reply-all office emails got you down and your inbox up?
In my client’s offices, we recently experienced another all too familiar round of reply-all emails. Due to user error and / or an IT glitch, a project email was sent out to the entire company. Despite past experience, many people took it upon themselves to let the email’s originator know that it was sent to them by mistake or to remove them from the email chain. This went on for days. It was clear that simply hitting “Reply” instead of “Reply-all” was not working. Frustration was building and the replies started to show it.
Trick: The next time you find yourself in this situation, select one of those emails in Outlook, hold down the Ctrl key, and press Delete.
This will send the selected conversation and all future messages to your Deleted Items folder.
Tip: The last time this happened at my office, the sheer number of reply-all responses crashed a few servers internationally, overwhelmed mobile devices, and cost the company a substantial amount of money due to the increased server storage space. Many who contributed to the reply-all responses had to meet with their management to discuss behaviors. While it’s not possible to completely prevent this from happening again in the future, it is possible to keep such emails out of your inbox and out of mind.
Get more Tips & Tricks in the online archive on our website as they are added with each new newsletter.