Small Project, Invaluable Lesson

By: Corey Adams 

A quick trip to the store, spend time with my wife and kids, and really slow down and enjoy life. My template for a typical Saturday was in place. What transpired was an eye-catching opportunity, and an essential life lesson in leadership, management, and success. 

We had been looking for a new storage system for our sons’ Legos, that were overrunning in their rooms and becoming more of an obstacle course filled with landmines for the feet. So off to IKEA we went, purchasing a modest, but functional unit that would certainly give us some much-needed organization.  

As we began, I didn’t fully comprehend what I was about to pass on to my boys. But it quickly became evident, it wasn’t just a storage unit. It was a chance for my boys and I to assemble it together and at the same time give life lessons on leadership, project management, and following instructions.  

The first step was to open the box, lay out all the pieces in an organized way and discard all trash. While most people look for instructions first, I chose to go down a different path. The path of organizing materials allows me to familiarize myself with the project and its parts before picking up the instructions. I could see the wheels turning in their heads as each piece emerged from the package.  

Second, we located the instructions. Not to read, but to look at one page that is so informative it can change the dynamics of any project, the tools required page. If you are going to set up your employees or your children on a project, giving them the required tools is an absolute to productivity. After collecting the required tools, we finally got to the step in the process that most people start with, reading the instructions.  

This storage unit was not like many other projects I have been involved in during my career. There was a need for materials, equipment, organization, direction, and finally labor. We all know that labor is the highest cost in most things, but labor costs have a direct correlation with pre-project planning.  

It seems obviously simple, but many project managers, superintendents, foreman, and other leaders completely whiff on the steps of a successful project.  

  1. Give them the materials, tools, or other resources needed to complete the project. 
  1. Give them instructions or direction toward the goals and expectations of the project. 
  1. Get out of the way. Micromanaging only adds to the cost of a project.  
  1. Enjoy a well completed project on time and in budget. 
  1. Reward success.  

We are all frustrated at the crew that spends more time in Home Depot than onsite. Make sure it is their fault before you chastise them. If I would have just told my four boys to put together the storage unit and never spent another minute on it, they would still be struggling. Making the job take longer, cost more, and undeniably fall short on the quality that good leaders require. 

Corey Adams Is Vice President of Kelly Lang Contractors, Inc. He also speaks on entrepreneurship to trade schools, and is a Certified CE instructor. If you would like to discuss business development strategies or network with Corey, you may contact him at 740-984-2517, or coreyadams@kellylangcontractors.com