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Points on the Horizon

January 23



Originally, I planned to write about the updates to the company handbook taking effect at the start of the new year. But as we got into the revisions, there was not much to write about. Most of the updates were formally incorporating policies into the handbook that we have already announced and rolled out or making clarifications to help us consistently apply existing policies. Look in your email for more details on the update and as always, feel free to reach out to your supervisor or HR with any questions.


So, instead, I thought I would talk about something that has been on my mind lately: overcorrection.



When you learn to navigate without a trail to follow, either by foot or by boat, you are taught to look in the direction you want to go and find a point. That point could be a weird tree, a star, a boulder, etc. but it should be something unique that is as far out as you can clearly see. Once you have found that point, you just . . . go toward it.


One of the major things this allows you to avoid is overcorrection. It can be easy to feel yourself getting pulled off course and take drastic action to try to get back. The wind blows you a little to the left, so you turn back hard to the right to compensate. There is a big rock in your way that forces you to go left, so as soon as you can, you turn back right to try to get back on course. The problem is, when those obstacles come up, we are busy dealing with the obstacle and we don’t notice how drastic of a turn we had to make. Unless we are paying specific attention, we are really bad at guessing how far off course we are, so we try to compensate and hope for the best.


By having a distant reference point, you don’t have to know how many degrees off course the wind took you or count how many steps it took to circumnavigate that boulder. You just need to take a second to find your point, reorient, and keep heading in the right direction.


You can’t always travel in a straight line. You may get blown off the path. There may be obstacles in the way. You may just get tired for a while and drift off course. But as long as you can still see your point, you know you are headed in the right direction.


This comes up daily as we do our work and execute our processes. All our jobs have an end goal, a set of things that we promised to deliver to our customers. Everything we do on that job should be moving us toward that goal. All our processes have an expected output and all the steps in that process should be moving toward that output. But obstacles come up: a part hasn’t arrived yet, there is a pipe where your cut-in box needs to go, and the person in front of you hasn’t finished their part of the process yet. Something is in your path and you have to find a way around it. If all you know is the next few steps, it is easy to get lost and frustrated, but if you know your destination, there are a lot more options to stay on course.


So, keep an eye on your nav point and if you don’t know where it is, don’t be afraid to ask. It is easy to get distracted and lose track of the goal, but we’re in this together and we all want to help each other out.


This leads to the next question: How do you set good navigation points? That may have to be an article all on its own, but in the meantime, here’s a TED Talk.


Josh Hiett

Director of Corporate Services

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