Sunday, January 9, 2011

Communicating Up & Down the Line

My dad was a pipeliner.  For those of you who have never known anyone who worked on a pipeline, there are, or were (circa 1965) when father worked there, hard working, mean, tough, foul mouthed, whiskey drinking, ornery hooligans.  Due to political correctness and changes in labor law they may have changed a bit over the years.

My father, Richard or Dick as he was known to his friends was a field superintendent with his Company Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company.  This Company moved natural gas via pipelines from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana to the Midwest selling it all up and down the line. As a supervisor Dick was involved with managing about a 100 mile section of 36” to 48” metal pipes buried underground transmitting gas at outrageous pressures.  If you look at the map you can see the pipelines as a couple of lines.  All up and down the line they were taking gas off, putting it on and putting pressure back on the line. 

Without going into all of the particulars this is dangerous work requiring skill and a great deal of communication.  In the 1960's company vehicles had two way radios, like the police.  They also used microwave communication to talk via a private phone system amongst themselves. Every morning all of the field supervisors would call in on some number.

They would have a party conversation, 20 to 30 people on the phone talking about what was going on, problems they had encountered,  situations that others could learn from, and probably some other stories that we would not have wanted to hear about.

My point is this in 1965 the visionary leaders of this Company saw a need, purpose and a benefit for their supervisors throughout the heartland of the country to communicate and share ideas and information with each other daily. They had the technology available to their company to facilitate this.

Fast forward 2011; communication has changed, and improved dramatically.  Many of us involved with SHRM as volunteer leaders at all levels have seen the value in this. Imagine having a tool where you could communicate with 500 other H.R. pros, by just making a comment about something on the internet. We are working on an effort to share information up and down the line (just like the pipeline) where different chapters, state councils or members can share information thought web-sites and blogs.  This effort is being coordinated by everybody’s friend Ben Eubanks from the UpstartHR blog.

For those of us in Illinois SHRM we applaud Ben for this effort and will do what we can to help and support him.  So let’s open up all those lines of communication from Alabama and Louisiana to Wisconsin and Ohio and share what we know with one and other.   Whether it is a way to help recruit or retain SHRM members or a new software application that can assist Human Resources, or a blog post sharing some great information – let’s share it with one and other.

Be watching for more posts and links back and forth between all of the chapters and state councils that are participating.