This past month, I introduced an interoffice training session on how to be a moneymaking design-build engineer, facility engineer, and/or project manager. In preparing for the training session, I wanted to find an analogy for employees to relate to, one that would get each of them to better understand how they could improve their business performance, job after job after job.

I'm not a big fan of professional sports. Watching millionaires play games and then complain about their mundane problems is not something I have a lot of interest in doing, but sports is a great analogy for training people in the design-build-facility management (D-B-FM) business. After all, like sports, D-B-FM is a competition you need to go out and win on a regular basis.

Go Team!

Having said this, let's compare football to your job, starting with the physical conditioning necessary to play the game. If you are not physically ready to compete, you can't play the game. Next, practice, practice, practice! With each project, I "make the time" to critique what I did right and what I could have done better. Football players do the same when they practice all week just for the opportunity to play the next game. In D-B-FM, you are in the game every day so you need to consider each game a practice game where you continuously strive for improvement.

A football team's players and coaching staff review films of their past game and films of the competition. You need to take the time to review how you performed and also, whenever possible, how the competition performed. To have someone copy another professional can be one of the best compliments a person can receive, so check out the consistent winners and copy them. I have had the opportunity to copy from the best and the worst. It is always obvious when you copy from the best, but don't overlook those who don't do a good job. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the worst in the business and I learned how "not" to do certain things. Learning what is bad D-B-FM can be just as valuable as learning what is good D-B-FM.

I have also worked with people who were brilliant and even had their master's in business but they could never see the forest through the trees. They weren't successful business people. How often has football's Heisman trophy winner been less than successful when he graduated from college? The same can be said for some really well educated D-B-FM personnel. Education only gets you into this building industry game. It does not guarantee that you will be a superstar. You need to continue to work at being the best.

Winning Really IS the Only Thing

On game day, the product isn't engineering, estimating, construction, or operation and maintenance. On game day, it is about winning. For the building industry, winning is giving the client the best project for the best value. In addition, it is making sure that your firm and your partnering firms made a reasonable profit for your effort. To do all these things, you need to have a playbook that shows you how to execute the project.

Standardization, planning, and teamwork all contribute to the successful execution of a D-B-FM project on game day. Executing the plays is analogous to implementing the standards. Executing the plays requires teamwork and teamwork requires planning. Going back and reviewing the project is analogous to reviewing the game film.

Continuous improvement is a quality process that you strive for by going back and critiquing what you did right and what you did wrong. Remember, "Monday morning quarterbacks" can never go back and play the game over, so you shouldn't go back and do the job over. If the job works and the client received value, learn from the job and then get ready for the next game/project. The business on game day is to win. If you do it by one point, it still counts. Get ready to win the next time by three points.

For more insight about being a player in the moneymaking profession that we are in, refer to my "Tomorrow's Engineer" column at the back of this magazine. ES