Geo Week News

January 15, 2013

No Time for Mistakes

There are few things that I find more fascinating than the concept of time. There is a line from an old television show, “…holding onto time is like trying to hold water in your hand. No matter how tightly you try to grip it, it slips away.”  However, that doesn’t mean that we should not recognize how time passes us by and, more importantly, how it passes for our clients. I am trying to be both more realistic and a better manager of my business through time management this year. In order to have any chance of success I think that I’ll have to approach this from several angles.

  • Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.  I came to the world of 3D imaging from the land surveying end of the measurement sciences. If any group can teach you something about mistakes when marketing technology it is us land surveyors! Hardware and software manufacturers have often sold to land surveyors by advertising the time savings of their wares. Unfortunately, many surveyors have tried to use the same line to sell to their clients. As should be expected, the “This will now take me less time and cost you more money” line hasn’t worked out so well. It doesn’t matter how the equipment was marketed to me, I probably can’t use that same advertisement with my clients. The one exception to this may be mobile scanning where short field times are the name of the game. Everywhere else I should probably keep my time savings to myself unless they are directly beneficial to my client. In short, I intend to refrain from mentioning the speed of my equipment unless I am directly asked to do so.
  • Employ Mr. Scott’s Time Estimation Equation whenever possible. For those of you who are not Star Trek geeks, Mr. Scott was the engineer of the Enterprise on the original Star Trek series. I think this dialogue from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock says it all:

James T. Kirk: How much refit time before we can take her out again?

Montgomery Scott: Eight weeks, Sir, [Kirk opens his mouth] but ye don’t have eight weeks, so I’ll do it for ye in two.

James T. Kirk: Mr. Scott. Have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of four?

Montgomery Scott: Certainly, Sir. How else can I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?

James T. Kirk[over the intercom] Your reputation is secure, Scotty

Most of us want to please our clients and most of our clients want it done yesterday. However, I intend to under promise and over deliver; and I can’t do that if my time estimates require everything to go perfectly because it rarely does.

  • Realize that not all unbillable time is equal. I want to be able to bill for as many work hours as I can but how I spend those non billable hours is important too. I will continue to perform a good bit of R&D but I hope to push myself and staff into some new areas as well. You may have noticed that even 10 years into this industry few in the general population really know what most of us do for a living. I am beginning to think that some of that is because we only interact with the professionals we work with. In an attempt to remedy this, I intend to devote more time to social institutions this year. A poll by the Pew Research Center and a Gallup poll both conducted last year point out that the current generation under 30 years of age are less likely to be involved in social institutions (Church, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) than any previous generation since 1950. While many of us are older than this demographic, the statistics show a trend in this direction as opposed to a sudden change. How are people in our towns going to know what we do if we don’t suit up, show up, and be counted? How will younger generations network if we let these social institutions fail through our lack of participation? I know it won’t be billable, but it is still time well spent.
  • Remember that the clock is running. Many of us have been at this for nearly a decade at this point. If we don’t keep our eyes open for the next thing we may miss it the way that others missed laser scanning. So, I will have to leave some time for exploring. From UAVs to software solutions to robots with Kinects for eyes it seems that there are plenty of offshoots for 3D imaging to choose from. Don’t forget to spend some time keeping up with those as well! 

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