Billy’s Journey


A recent conversation with a quality manager from a major general contractor brought this cartoon immediately to mind.  You see, this poor chap was under the delusion that he could simply walk from his desk to a condo unit to check the fit of the refrigerator and then walk back.  The time required to complete his journey: 2 hours!

family-circus-billy-pathAt every turn, the quality manager was beckoned by a information-starved  sub contractor with a question.  Each question began innocently enough.  “Got a minute?” they would ask.  But after a dozen or so of these, his 10 minute walk turned into a 2 hour journey.

My take on Billy’s journey:

  1. Ground-level direction leaves a lot to be desired.
  2. Tradespeople want to do a good job for their clients, but don’t always have sufficient information to do so.
  3. If chance encounters with roaming managers are how trade questions get answered, then I bet a fair number of trade questions go un-answered.

Project quality suffers in all cases.


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2 Responses to “Billy’s Journey”

  1. Duane Craig Says:

    Great blog, Rob. I always liked getting out of the trailer and checking on things. But I discovered there is need for some caution when answering questions about the work, especially if you don’t have the contract right in front of you. In this story there is the opportunity for Billy to inadvertently modify contracts by verbally approving changes the subs may want to make. Their intention might be to make the end product better. But it could also be they want to make their job easier at the expense of another trade. There’s a fine line between answering questions about how things are supposed to be done, and actually approving some change in how they are done. Billy would do well to make sure he is very familiar with the contractual obligations of each sub, and if in doubt he should make it clear that any variation in how the work is performed might cause the work to be rejected. Of course if they are looking for clarification, and he can’t answer on the spot, he should also get a definitive answer back to them as quickly as possible – and preferably, routed through their boss.

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