During a recent trip to Arizona, I visited the V-bar-V petroglyph site in the Verde Valley. For those not familiar, petroglyphs are engravings made into rock surfaces and can be found throughout the world. I found the V-bar-V petroglyphs fascinating to see, but it was their story that really captured my imagination. It turns out that some of the engravings were almost certainly used as part of a solar calendar to help guide the critical timing for crop planting—critical because given the length of the growing season, you could harvest two full crops if you timed things just right.
It wasn’t until days later back at the office that a curious analogy occurred to me. These petroglyphs served, in a manner of speaking, as an ancient people’s documentation. They served people in much the same way documents serve us today—to inform, instruct, and establish a record of events that can be shared.
While I can’t say I know any contractors still using rock engraving as a form of communication, I also do not know any who go a single day without processing many documents. Documents that define the work to be done, establish a plan to do the work, and record the progress day by day. From pre-historic times to today, from petroglyphs to the public cloud, one thing has not changed. Our work and our documents go hand-in-hand.
I think this basic observation can actually be quite powerful and important to remember. The more care we take with documentation and communication, the better work we do. If a certain petroglyph on that cliff face in Central Arizona had been carved just an inch away from its spot, it might have meant only one harvest instead of two. If one subcontractor on a project uses an old version of a plan or spec for one part of the job, it could result in mistakes that set you back many days and dollars.
So if you are ever driving the 17 through Central Arizona, stop by the V-bar-V and take in these amazing records of the genius of an ancient people. And then when you’re back at work, consider your project documents and how accurate, available, and useful they are for the work you do.
How have you improved the management and flow of documents in your business?