Last week, I spent the better part of a 24-hour period helping a client image a couple of blast furnaces at a steel mill. First of all, I now have a new baseline for the concept of “loud.” When you have a grown man – six inches from your face – yelling as loudly as he can and you can hear no difference when his mouth stops moving … Well, it was the loudest environment I’ve ever experienced.
‘What were they trying to tell you that made them think they had to do it in that moment and location?’ you might ask. I would later find out that they were essentially talking about how cool their workplace was. Every person I met wanted to tell me a story about the mill or the furnaces or some technical specification they found to be impressive. Truthfully, it was impressive. The term “controlled chaos” continually came to mind as I watched hundreds of tons of liquid steel fly around the building. When you stop to think about it, we humans have engineered some pretty cool stuff!
As someone in the 3D imaging industry, I have the privilege of gaining access to a lot of places that the general public rarely sees. It’s a great benefit to the job that I probably do not focus on enough, but it really hit me at the mill. I think we spend so much time worrying about the billable hours and bemoaning the working conditions (it was hot and loud and there was a continual rain of metallic dust that fell every time one of the roof cranes passed overhead) that we don’t take the time to realize how lucky we are (and I don’t mean lucky to not have to work there every day!).
Because I have had a scanner, I’ve had the ability to go to multiple countries, offshore platforms, historic ships, private enclaves, world-class golf courses, and amazing engineered environments like steel mills, power plants, and all sorts of factories. I’ve driven on several Formula 1 circuits and met hundreds of professionals, who like those at the mill, were excited about where we were and what they did. Like those guys at the mill, they rarely got to share it with anyone and they were not going to pass up the opportunity to do so.
I know it’s difficult to take the time to listen when you are in production mode, but I encourage you to do so whenever possible. It certainly makes sense from a business point of view. Forming relationships is always good for business but so is understanding your client’s world. The more you see and know what his problems are, the better you will be at offering services that help to solve them.
Lastly, it’s good for you. When I think of scanning Valhalla Golf Club for the Ryder Cup telecast, the first thing I remember is watching the pros putt on greens that I had putted on just days before. It wasn’t the constant thunderstorms that had us working all hours that didn’t include rain or the mosquitos or any other negative aspects of the project. That would not be the case if I had not taken a moment to look around and enjoy my view from the other side of the fence.