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Four More to Go

What follows is the next letter in a series of 24 letters supposedly written by an owner (Jack Owployer) in response to a general superintendent’s (Joe Gensup) request for something more than the typical job description. Though the company had provided a generic job description, what the superintendent needed and received was much more personal and heartfelt when compared to the sterile notion of do’s and don’ts so commonly emphasized throughout our industry.

Dear Joe:

I’d like to devote this letter to the necessity of cooperation and the power of collaboration. I don’t have to tell you how critical this is organizationally. The obvious benefit of cooperation is self-evident, and collaboration is simply cooperation in action. Its shared power is undeniable and the lack thereof insufferable. Nobody needs convincing. One must only consider an environment where the lack of cooperation is prevalent to see just how important this topic is.


As you know, we recently had to deal with the lack of cooperation and the negative impact it had on an entire department, moreover the company. Not only was it undermining our productivity, it created a disturbance on several levels. Attitudes in general began deteriorating, and disputes erupted. Pessimism slowly but surely became the norm as the attitudes of an increasing number of affected employees grew worse as individuals interacted with a single “contaminated” individual. Only after dealing with the bad apple did we get relief.


Encountering uncooperative individuals is somewhat inevitable, so it’s all about how you deal with it. The problem isn’t likely to recur if you deal with it promptly. Others will recognize that it isn’t something you are going to tolerate, and it will engender a spirit of cooperation. Yes, if you nip it in the bud, it will have a chilling effect on the problem, organizationally.


However, oftentimes managers are too slow in dealing with this kind of negative energy, and it ultimately spreads. The saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch” is all too true. Rotten fruit creates more rotten fruit as the rot becomes its own contagion. All it takes is one bad apple to begin the domino effect, spreading contagiously and ruining all nearby apples.


A saying caught my eye the other day on Facebook: “Whatever you allow, will continue.” I’m not sure who authored that truth, but it’s well worth considering. It’s up to us to determine what we will allow, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it continues until we stop it.


We all wish flowers were as easy to grow as weeds, and order was as easy to develop as confusion, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Deliberate and persistent effort is necessary for the development of order, but neglect is all that’s needed to create confusion. Weeds spring up freely and without anyone’s intention. They must be deliberately removed, pulled out by the roots and replaced with more suitable plants and flowers. That is quite simply, just the way it is, and I don’t expect that to ever change unless it’s changed by the deliberate effort of those in charge.


So then, let’s get everyone in the same boat, rowing in the same direction. What a wonderful sight to behold. You can visualize it. Just like that rowing team coursing through the calm water as they slice, effortlessly in unison toward their goal. Their timing is nothing short of impeccable as they snap, repeatedly striking and breaking water together.


Yes, let’s get some of that going. Let’s keep our mission clear, remain focused on our goal and avoid every obstacle. Our intention is to be an exceptional drywall company. One company, typified by collaboration as opposed to a collection of departments or individuals that may or may not be working together at any given time. We are not motivated by self-interest or even the interests of our particular department or role. We have every eye on the big picture. We refuse the myopic gaze at our own navel. We say no to everything that attempts to pull us off course and yes to full cooperation as we insist on nothing less than a collaborative effort. We are the personification of cooperation! Right, Joe? Yes, yes and yes! Let’s do this.


Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at

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