T&D Confidential

In my 16 years here at Transmission & Distribution World, I've had the opportunity to share pretty much anything on my mind and that without suffering

In my 16 years here at Transmission & Distribution World, I've had the opportunity to share pretty much anything on my mind — and that without suffering the indignity of a disclaimer plastered at the bottom of the my editorial. Not so with other publications.

One of my contemporaries has this disclaimer attached to said editorial: “Opinions expressed in this commentary belong to the author and might not be shared by other employees or management.”

Truly, this scares me. Not so much that management might not share my views. I am fine with that. But I would prefer not to state publicly that my thoughts belong solely to me. Show me an individual whose opinions are totally his or her own, and I will show you a hermit who doesn't read.

People Generate Ideas

Thoughts and opinions are formed and refined in the blender of interaction. Dale Douglass, my not-quite-right friend and a consultant with Power Delivery Consultants, puts it this way: “You are only as sharp as the people you surround yourself with.”

Douglass refuses to go solo as a consultant because he doesn't want his brain to go to mush.

My friend Chris Hickman with InnovariEnergy says that some of his best ideas come from people he would rather not meet: a salesperson he is too busy to see or a representative of a community interest group he wishes would go away.

When I had my own consulting business years ago, I suffered from a lack of interaction with peers. I didn't have any trouble finding work — people were paying me to write code, perform industry tests and evaluate procedures — but I was losing it. I needed to take on people with an attitude who would enjoy nothing more than to whittle me down to size. We can say mentally we are open to new ideas, but it is the friction from rubbing thoughts back and forth that gets our creative juices flowing.

Here at T&D World, I have access to incredibly bright people who will admit that theirs is a shared luminescence, that the quality of their ideas depends on the quality of the materials they read, and the depth and breadth of knowledge of the individuals with whom they interact.

Teetotalers are at a distinct disadvantage in the idea generation business, as some of our industry's best ideas are sparked into existence when friends and associates gather in bars after a day's work. I expect the numbing effect of alcohol helps take off the edge of our overly critical technical natures. Ideas captured on napkins have provided the genesis of many a business that drives our power-delivery industry today.

Contrast this “idea central” environment to that in companies where employees “work to live.” They just want to get by until they get home. These “Thank God it's Friday” people live in a self-imposed work vacuum so oxygen-starved they can't even develop a good patina.

I put a lot of mental energy in my editorials. A spark might set me off but ideas need to season. They need shaping, honing and refining. I've literally worked on some topics for years, gradually gaining perspective from critics and enthusiasts. In short, I release no editorial before its time.

But Just in Case …

Here is another common disclaimer I've begun to notice at the bottom of correspondence I receive: “Information in this message may contain confidential information intended only for the addressee. Access, copying or reuse of this information contained therein by any other person is not authorized. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this message and any attachments from your system.”

Wow, this disclaimer makes me feel like I'm the guilty party! And that merely because I read the disclaimer, I am evidently responsible to let the sender know I received something that was not intended for me. To date, I've never sent a note back stating “I've received this message in error.” So who actually forces us to post disclaimers? I'm afraid to ask, but I expect our legal departments have too much time on their hands.

So if you ever see one of my editorials with a disclaimer attached, be assured that regardless of what the disclaimer states, you are welcome, even encouraged, to share my editorials with everyone you know. My ideas are not mine alone. And if you take exception to what I write, you are more than welcome to take me on. And I will be glad to add your views to the cloud of ideas from which we all draw. And if you somehow, find yourself reading this editorial in error, it's okay, hit the delete key. Don't feel like you have to let me know.

Ideas are king here at T&D World. Call, write or e-mail. I always answer correspondence. Confidentially, I am always looking for that next spark to kick off “shared editorials” here at T&D World.

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