Yesterday I took a few hours away off the hectic drumming of the new terminal to concentrate on a new project that I am leading: a new control system for the runways and taxiways lighting system for Barcelona’s airport, that happens to have the biggest beacon lighting system in Spain, bigger than Madrid’s.
This project has a very important difference to many other things I’m doing. It’s not focused on the big opening day but the completion date is one year later, in 2010. That means we can focus on understanding the problem, building a team, applying a methodology, generating buy-in with the final customer, expliciting the acquired knowledge and incorporating the best practices into the organisation.
We are also going to standardise the application. Coming from a bespoke application, it won’t be easy but my intention is to be able to build an standard that the organisation will be able to use in its 40-something airports. Closed applications are a thing of the past, we all know it but, instead of paying lip-service to it, this time we’re going to do it.
But, what was important is the personal reflection that arose after our working session. Just forgetting fire fighting for a while and listening to somebody that knew a great deal about the system and discussing various proposals of what we could be doing for our initial project viability analysis.
It felt so good. Listening, learning. I’ve been getting these kind of sensations thanks to my Henley MBA, but it was great to have the same sensation coming from an engineer’s discourse. Focusing in the input instead of the output as I’ve grown accustomed to be lately.
We all need to be able to take long perspectives into a project. Be able to plan, and consider alternatives. To flex our creative muscles and deploy our energies into constructing something new, more effective, something built constructively not on the unstable foundations of pressure.
We all need to sit back an listen, as humble as the boy (or girl) we all still carry inside, and learn something from people that know more than us. Be able to capture that elusive gist that will enrich each and everyone of us. Coming humble from humus, or ground in Latin, and humilis from lowly, every manager needs to be humilis habitu humilis et actu, that means humble in dressing (or garments) and in its way of behaving to be able to trascend the manager-administrator role into leading the project’s team to success.