Under the Floor Boards

This past month my wife and I spent  a few days preparing to launch a sailboat that had been in storage for 4 years.  We soon discovered that the automatic switch on the bilge pump had failed and the boats bilge was filled with a few inches of water.  Mixed in with the water was a mixture of oil and various sediment that collected and settled into the bilge over the years.  We devoted the next two days to separating the oil from the water, vacuuming out the sediments, and power washing the inside of the hull.  The work was tedious due to the labyrinth of supports and compartments intertwined with bundles of wires and hoses.  The 105 degree temperature made it difficult to distinguish whether I was wet from the pressure washer or the humidity.

We proceeded meticulously with the task wanting to get every bit of grease and sand out of every crack and crevasse.  When the job was completed we admired our work for a few minutes before replacing the floor boards and covering up all visible evidence of our efforts.  We were satisfied knowing that our hard work would pay off by extending the life and reliability of our bilge pump, wiring, plumbing, and hull of the boat.  These benefits, like the physical cleanliness under the floorboards, were also not visible.  While they may not be visible they were crucial to the safety of the boat and its eventual crew.

We spent our final day scrubbing, wiping, waxing, and oiling the interior of the galley and main salon.  Unlike the work under the floor boards, the fruits of our efforts were noticeable and visible.  This small project reminded me of my work as a construction manager; much of the work I do is not visible and the results are not noticeable.  Yet, the work construction managers do is valuable and makes possible the work that is visible and noticeable. Construction managers are responsible for  insuring the resources needed to complete a project: labor and material, are available to incorporate into the work at the earliest possible time.

If the resources are not available when required and the project is delayed or not built according to specifications, the erstwhile invisible construction manager suddenly becomes visible under the spotlight of scrutiny.  Attention to detail and adhering to a system of checks and double checks, cleaning under the floorboards if you will, goes a long way in preventing such moments.  Construction managers’ efforts may not always be visible or noticeable; although I have learned they are appreciated by clients at the end of a successful and safe project.

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