High Performing Business – Influence – Building Bridges

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, CCPM, PMI-ACP, RYT

My project with the Alaska Research Garden demonstrated how much more influential it is to build bridges rather than to burn bridges.

My project with the Alaska Research Garden demonstrated how much more influential it is to build bridges rather to burn bridges.

As I contemplate this topic of building bridges, I wonder if we are living in increasingly divisive, and polarized times or is that how I am perceiving the information coming at me from a variety of news sources?  The only reason you need to build a bridge is to cross a chasm, or some divide.  But if you do not perceive a gap, then why would you need to build a bridge in the first place?  And if there is a gap, and you do not know it’s there, do you risk falling into the great abyss?  But enough on this esoteric philosophical perspective…..

The whole idea of building bridges came about because of the idea of burning bridges.  I am working on a project in a small town in Alaska where the butt you are kicking today is likely the butt you have to kiss tomorrow in order to get something important accomplished – so there really is no value in kicking anyone’s butt to the curb.  Even less value in burning a bridge as every one does end up hearing about anything that goes down – it either shows up on one of the town’s FB pages or even worse in the well read police blotter.  Being consciousientious of how your actions impact others becomes increasingly important in this small town atmosphere.

On one of my bigger projects last week, I had a challenge partially of my own making.  Well okay – 100% of my own making.  I had ordered 700 cinder blocks that got delivered to my job site in a large shipping container.  But we had not finished the dirt work yet on the site so I had the shipping company place the container tucked off to the side so our heavy equipment could easily move about the site. The challenge came when we had to remove the cinder blocks as the container had sunk up to a foot at the front – all the cinder blocks were loaded more towards the front of the container (this makes sense as that much weight at the back end could have caused the front end of the truck to life up).  None of the heavy equipment we had on site could lift up the front of the shipping container to move it so we could get a fork lift in the back of the container.  So, I needed to recruit folks with the strength to schlep out 700 cinder blocks.

Luckily this small Alaskan town is very connected via facebook so I posted a request on one of the FB pages looking for help.   One guy slammed the shipping company saying it was their responsibility to remove the blocks and how bad it was I was stuck with this problem from the monopolistic business.  The guy who runs the shipping company, who I had been in contact with and knew of my challenge, did a rebuttal – but this divisiveness was not resolving my challenge.  Luckily before this all started on that post, I did have one volunteer.  Then the next day I got two more volunteers and we had the container emptied in under two hours.  Right as the guys were finishing, the man from the shipping company stopped by the job site (it was a Saturday and his day off) to check on how we were doing (what great customer service).  Since the container was now empty, he hustled it back to get a truck to get the container off our lot so we’d have more room to move around the job site.  I put up another post on that same FB page giving a shout out to the great customer service from the guy who runs the shipping company.  I was grateful for the extra mile he went and since there was such divisiveness expressed on my original post, I wanted to publically acknowledge this guy who really does go the extra mile to do a good job – even if he works for a company that has a monopoly on shipping up here.  I am very grateful we at least have one company handling the shipping up here – it’s not easy to get stuff to this town close to the end of the inside passage.

If influence is measured by the number of likes on a FB post – I’d say the bridge building post created some great influence – it’s at 77  likes at this stage of the game.  The first post with the bridge burning comment received zero likes.   Yes one data point, but sufficient proof for me that building bridges rather than burning bridges creates more influence – at least here in this small town.

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