Beyond the Build


A Problem Half Solved.

One of our jobs in Somerset, KY is set to turn over soon. Because it is a new prototype for our customer, I went to visit this week and to meet with our project superintendent. He and I talked over dinner about problem solving and management skills. I was lamenting that sometimes it’s hard to admit one has a problem to solve. The line of thinking:

Will this show weakness?
Will they think I am not doing my job?
Will they think I’m not planning ahead?

Our project superintendent shared something that his grandfather always said: “A problem shared is a problem half solved.” Pretty wise.

In our office, we have a large 7’ x 21’ stand up concrete conference table in the middle of our “Loud Wing.” It’s surrounded by offices, each having 3’ wide panes of glass facing the common area, which helps everyone feel connected. It always seems like we’re having more than one mini-conference of 2-3 people looking over a particular drawing, or just talking, figuring things out together. Here, problems often get half-solved, or maybe even fully solved.

I’m not sure if it’s the table that sparks collaboration, or if that’s just how our guys think. Still, I am reminded of a quote from Aristotle, circa 300 BC. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Sure is true for us.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.