Posts Tagged ‘Work’

What Others Dream. We Do.

September 28th, 2011 2 comments

It’s been a big week at work, the first 787 was delivered. There are a lot of milestones between the launch of a program and delivery, some artificial (“roll-out”) and some very important (certification) . Delivery may be about the most important, it shows not only can we build an aircraft that meets all the regulatory requirements, but we built one that meets the customer’s requirement.

And we are in business because of the customer.

I’ve been on and off this program a number of times. It started seven years ago talking about AGUs, DCUs, ACPs, AMUs and a whole alphabet soup of acronyms. A couple of years later I was pulled back to work some avionics issues and my most recent stint has been working as a manufacturing engineer. It’a all been challenging, it’s all been difficult, but it’s also been a rewarding experience, working with some great people.

It’s nice to sit back and look at what’s been achieved since we sat in a room talking architecture. There is so much more to do, but for a few hours it was fun to sit back and think about the thousands of people all over the world working together every day to do incredible things.

There are lots of pictures around the web of the ceremony Monday, it is a great looking airplane. Randy Tinseths Blog gives a good idea of what it was like to be there.

On the back of my business cards it says “What Others Dream. We Do.” Monday showed what we meant by that.

Categories: Personal, Work Tags: , ,

That burnout thing…

March 28th, 2011 Comments off

I spoke a month or two ago about burnout and what I was going through. I said my friends called it and they were right,

I’ve been successful at cutting the traveling down a little, delegating some work and enjoying weekends off. I still find the motivation a little difficult to come by at times, but I do have some great people around me.

As far as the traveling goes. I was supposed to be in Wichita next week, but there is way too much to be done in Everett this week. The return trip to Japan has been postponed, obviously.

The work is split into three areas, my leaders, the other leads and my group. All three are very supportive of what needs to be done and being there when I need help.

The leadership understand what is going on, they understand the pressure that is on all of us on the program and have done an excellent job in supporting the leads and engineers. There is understanding that there is more work to be done than we can realistically do. Priorities are set, communicated and then we are left to get it done. If help is requested or a roadblock needs moved we get the support we need.

One of the tasks on my plate is a capacity planning exercise. It’s been an interesting exercise, we have far more “non-scheduled” work than anyone imagined. Work that as a group we don’t get hours for. IT’s the first time I’ve done one of these for a few years and it’s been illuminating to share the results.

My peers form a very supportive group and I think we’ve been doing do a great job at pick up the slack for each other and together understand where we are going. The work is hard, never ending and there will not be time to get all that needs to be done, but we come close.

As for my group, a couple of those working for me have stepped up and give me the space to take care of the process, travel and org wide stuff which is important to tomorrow, yet rather time consuming today.

The last few months have been some of the most professionally rewarding of my career. I feel part of a great team that are making it happen and believe we will deliver the best airplane possible when this is over.

There is no secret to this stuff, it’s about communication and keeping each other informed. This has been particularly important among the lead engineers, and extra meetings suck time, but the results show their value.

A second part was getting more and better sleep, I said that for me a large part of this resolution was taking a conscious decision to spend 10 minutes relaxing before heading to bed.

Reading something that does not involve engineers usually works. I’m not one for “self help” books that are piled on bedside cabinets all over the country, but I have enjoyed the Hugh MacLeod book “Ignore Everybody”, It is about infusing your day with a little creativity. Something I’ve been striving to do for a while. It’s very good and I’ve got his next book “Evil Plans” sitting in the stack to be read.

I’m working on reducing my stress and working less, and I think it’s a made a difference to how I feel. Friends have said I’m doing better, and that’s a way better barometer than anything else. Thanks guys.

It’s not easy and these changes take practice to get right. I’ve felt a difference, it’s worth it.

Out of the office and…

March 23rd, 2011 Comments off

I have been out of the office in meetings over the last couple of days, it’s been nice to spend a little time outside in this weather. This was the view from the car park at the partners, blue sky, white clouds and mountain on the horizon. I like this.

Categories: Personal, Pictures Tags: , , ,

I now have a new definition of cold

March 1st, 2011 Comments off

I now have a new definition of cold. Forget Jack from Titanic and his puny not much bellow freezing hypothermia. Today in Winnipeg it was -21 with the wind chill taking it down another 12 or 15 degrees, and these are in new world Celsius. This is manly hypothermia weather. Walking out of a building into that takes your breath away and gives you an immediate ice-cream headache. It’s quite something to experience and the locals say you never really get used to it being this cold.

It’s been a great trip, very productive, fun people and from what we’ve seen of it an interesting city. Tonight there is curling going on, it was described to me today as the perfect Canadian sport; you can do it while drinking beer. It will be fun to go along and watch for an hour and have a drink.

One thing of interest is that there are far fewer SUV’s and 4WD than you’d see in Bellevue. And despite piles of snow around the city that are the size of a small office block and people having to use their snow blowers to get back into their garage an hour after they last used it, the factory here did not shut down for a single day this winter. Yes there are no hills, and yes live here and you know it’s coming, but somehow they survive.

This has been fun, I really like this new role I’m finding myself in at work. Plus I’ve discovered the local Fort Garry Pale and Pilsner is really good.

One morning you could see her panties…

February 24th, 2011 3 comments

I’ve been thinking about this and every trip, be it pleasure or business, has a moment that defines the trip. Karaoke in Nagoya, the unexpected hole in the wall barbeque place we were steered towards in Long Beach and so on. Nothing many others have not written about in the past.

Tulsa (and I was only in Tulsa for 36 hours) brought up a number of themes. There was the exceptional (the steak in Mahogany’s), the “we tried, but were ultimately totally incompetent (the hotel) and the “WTF” (security guard). The security guard provided the title, but it was a close run thing.

I’ve not spent much time in the midwest, Oklahoma city, Whichita and a few days in Omaha is about it. The people are always interesting and they know how to cut, age and cook a steak, which neatly brings me too…

The Exceptional

As we were leaving the factory yesterday we asked for a recommendation for great steak, we are in the midwest and it seems natural, we were told Mahogany’s is the place. They were right, lets be clear the wagu beef I had in Japan a few years ago will always be number one on the great steak list, but the New York Strip last night is a serious contender for the runners up place. Perfectly prepared (medium rare, I think this may be perfect for me) with no unnecessary sauces or seasonings.

We spent a very happy couple of hours sitting at the bar in the restaurant enjoying great food and stories. And they had TV’s in gents, is this an awesome place or what?

The incompetent

The ME responsible for this partner made the hotel choice, this decision is going to haunt him for some time. In the reservation system at work the hotel was listed as a Radisson and was close to the airport. It not. Apparently under new management and while I do believe the Hotel was trying, they were completely incompetent.

And not just in the details either, it was the big things too. It took almost 30 minutes for the shuttle bus to pick me up from the airport on Tuesday night, yes it was past 11 at night, but I then found out the hotel was less than 200 yards from arrivals. Rather than wait for the bus this morning, I walked to the airport, and judging from the mood of the people waiting for the bus at 5 this morning I was there far quicker.

Then there was breakfast yesterday. We had to be at the partner at 8. We met for breakfast at 7, plenty of time one would think for three rounds of toast and some pancakes. 45 minutes later, after being assured the cook was “working as fast as he can” we gave up and went to work sans breakfast.

Then there was the mildly entertaining. The remote control to my sleep-number bed was missing, apparently taken by maintance to another room and never replaced. In the bathroom I had four bottles of conditioner, one of shampoo and no moisturizer. On the plus side they did have decent free beer available and poured in propper pints too, none of the Embassy Suites tiny glasses. Three pints of Blue Moon before we left for dinner did a lot to make up for the failings.

The hotel was trying, they really were, but ultimatly they fell well short. Yes I sound like a spoilt traveller, and I’ve stayed in far worse (anything with Oakland or Detroit Airport in the title for a start) but I just want to get on with my day, and that was tough to do here.


We are in the midwest and things are different here. Being greeted with “god bless” as we walked into the security office to pick up our badges and wait for our escort into the factory was just the start of a very entertaining, and wonderfully non-politically correct 10 minutes.

While we were waiting the guard waved in a little black Mazda Miata, turned to the three of us and said with a chortle “She is so hot, I had to call her boss last summer and remind him to enforce the dress code.”

He rather wistfully continued “One morning you could see her panties and bra when she arrived. I told him that’s distracting. When she left you could not see them, she certainly took her bra off, and her panties too I think. She is really hot, and knows it. She was only here a couple of months before she netted herself an executive 20 years older than she was.”

“Anyway [our escort] is here, god bless, have a good visit.”

The three of us looked at each other and wandered off shaking out heads to do the production audit.

Categories: Pictures, Travel Tags: , , , , , ,

Long Acres

February 8th, 2011 1 comment

Spent the afternoon with a shirt and tie on pitching to the decision makers in Long Acres. Good meetings, ran long, but none the less good.

Stopped in Ikea on the way home, this is somewhere I rarely visit, I can’t stand the crowds and the slow “Ikea shuffle” as everyone winds their way through the store at the pace of the slowest.

At 7 O’clock on a Tuesday night it’s more my scene, almost empty, staff with time to answer my dumb questions about cut outs, TV weights and so on, as I try to design the perfect media wall and take notes. Help was rendered, decisions made and I came home with a Land Rover full of good stuff, the house is starting to come together.

Categories: Pictures, Travel Tags: , , , ,

My friends called it…

January 18th, 2011 1 comment

I’ve been travelling a lot for work in the last few months, and there will be more plenty more in the immediate future. There have been times when inspiration has been difficult to come by and motivation may not be totally there.

One of my friends called it before I recognized it, I’m approaching burnout.

I’ve been here before, taking a few moments to look I recognize the symptoms and about the only surprise is that it’s taken this long to get here. So what do I do about it? How do I handle it?

First, work less. Doing what I do it’s way easier to say “work less” than actually do it. I’ll start small, lets say no weekend overtime for the next month or two.

Then reduce what I work on from home by leaving my laptop at work and only take reading and editing stuff home. From experience, working less does not always mean getting less done; it means being more focused on what I do work on and delegating to my group more.

Hand in hand with not working, as much is a little redefining of what a good or successful day looks like. Progress on the program can be somewhat stop-start. The goals can be huge and occasionally unrealistic. I think I deal with it better than most, but the frustration of a perceived lack of progress is obviously felt by many around me. Maybe it’s time to step back and examine the goals. Are they achievable and is the time line realistic? If not they need to be changed.

I see progress, positive progress towards the ultimate goal (proven processes in place and metrics showing cost saving), but I’m also too close to appreciate what we’ve achieved as a group in the last few months. First glance I see what’s left to be done, rather then what we’ve done. The overarching plan that I first saw six months ago is “chunked” into very large blocks. Stepping down a level and examining the project work breakdown got us to somewhere with a little more granularity. These steps are way more achievable and make recognizing the progress we’ve made easier and more fulfilling.

That’s work dealt with, what about real life? It’s that delegating thing again and looking after myself. My lawyer is very good, we had a discussion last week and I trust her to take care of what needs to be done. She is the professional and looks after my corner. So far I’m very happy with that.

There is one last part of this, if after taking it easy for a month, getting more sleep, more exercise, reducing stress and so on and I feel the same way, then perhaps it’s just time to apply myself and get on with it. Not use burnout as an excuse, manage my stress and health and ignore the fact that I feel burned out, and just work through it until I can take a couple of weeks off in the spring.

A beautiful winter morning

January 3rd, 2011 Comments off

I’ve been back from London and the snow (actually ice now) is still on the ground. This morning was cold, clear skied and beautiful, this was taken on my drive into work this morning.

Categories: Personal, Pictures Tags: , , , , ,

Konnichi Wa

December 11th, 2010 Comments off

Days like this give those stressful days with all the bad stuff and accusations a more healthy perspective. It’s been an up and down week. Rough at times and wonderful in other moments, both personally and professionally; it’s nice to be around people who look after what they need to do. I’ve a lot of confidence in the people around me, and that feels rather good. I have a really good life, and this week helped with appreciating both that and the people I have around me. Thanks.

The last week at work has been tough, but ultimately rewarding when it all goes right. Getting to a place where I can really rebuild my career has been hard, but the deeper I get into this job the more I see that everything really is coming together. It’s exciting to be the part of something this big and believe I make a difference.

A beer pouring machine

Moving to a “getting excited by the little things” side note: the Delta Lounge at Narita has a really nice line in fresh sushi, internet and so on (the sushi was really good). But it also has the best beer dispenser I’ve ever seen. It takes the glass, tilts it for the perfect pour and then at the end sets it upright to made a head just the right size. Very cool, wonder if Amazon has anything similar… Talk about the Christmas present that keeps giving.

Fresh sushi in Tokyo

It’s a couple of years since I was last in Tokyo, and that was incredibly rushed. I love this country. There is no question it’s a very foreign place when compared to home, but it’s straightforward enough that traveling through is not difficult the way it can be in Asia.

I’m still overly excited about the whole beer dispenser thing, there is time for one more before my next flight…

Categories: Travel Tags: , , , , ,

True meeting quotes – #3490 in a series of millions…

October 30th, 2010 Comments off

“Just because we’ve used the phrase “vendor assist” in the presentation, it doesn’t me we will actually help.”

Categories: Humour, Work Tags: , , ,