It’s a new year and a new decade, so let’s welcome 2020 with resolutions to become 21st century drillers and drilling companies.

When you take time to reflect on the past 20 years, can you identify the positive changes you made as an individual and for your company? Did you develop into the driller you expected? Are you happy with your personal and company growth? I have six New Year’s resolution challenges to help us become 21st-century drillers leading 21st-century drilling companies. 

6 Challenges

Safety Challenge

Jobsite safety has improved immensely in the past 20 years, with innovation in equipment controls and hands-free technology. We couple technology with higher safety standards for processes and safety gear, and our team members have every opportunity to be safe on and off the jobsite. However, with all the improvements we have made, our industry continues to operate in ways both reckless and unsafe.

My first challenge starts with holding yourself and your teams accountable for unsafe acts. Implement and utilize stop work authority for every project. Educate your team about Heinrich’s accident triangle, which explains that for every significant injury, there were 29 minor injuries and 300 accidents without injury. Considering all the complex processes completed in a week, 300 non-injury accidents can add up quickly. Utilize the stop work authority to prevent accidents and, during that stop time, document what went wrong and determine the best way to prevent it from re-occurring.

Promotion Challenge

Twenty years ago, methods for promoting our companies and industry were limited to ads purchased in print and local media. Often our promotion landed on coffee shop placemats and coffee mugs. Did you believe that AOL CD years ago would lead to endless ways to promote your company for virtually free?

Social media is an excellent resource for interacting with customers and receiving near-instant reviews. I challenge every drilling company to take time to create a social media page to promote new projects, new technologies and your involvement in the community. I know what you are saying: “Brock, it’s 2020; we all have a website or social media page.” My challenge is to go beyond just promoting your company and talk about hot-button groundwater topics like the importance of groundwater protection, the global water crisis, and the need for young men and women to join the drilling industry. For every five basic posts about your company, create one post that will educate your customers about a hot-button topic in the drilling industry. 

Early Adopter Challenge

What new technology or method did you pass on in the past 20 years that you regret today? I learned that our industry is not full of early adopters when I worked in new products for Baroid IDP and Gefco. Our industry loves to wait patiently for a product to be proven before utilizing it. However, in the past 20 years, the research and design process has dramatically sped up from one year to often less than 90 days. The change has come from the way design teams utilize smartphone technology to document product failures and efficiencies. Manufacturers in our industry need early adopters to participate in an expedited R&D process. My challenge is for you to find a few manufacturers that you use every day and volunteer to be part of their R&D process. Help speed up the innovation process and be at the forefront of new technology. 

Professional Development Challenge

In January 2000, I attended my first weeklong mud school in Houston, Texas, at Baroid IDP’s Halliburton facility. I returned to Michigan with a new perspective on professional development and learning. Twenty years ago, the opportunity to develop professionally was limited to conference and open house schedules. Today, we can do professional development on our own time online. I challenge you to choose a different way to develop professionally for each quarter of 2020. You can pick webinars, audiobooks, podcasts, video blogs, traditional lectures or even a training course. When you find an educational platform you enjoy, share it with your team and get them excited about professional development. 

Next Generation Driller Challenge

We have 30 years to teach, train and develop experts that can fight the global water crisis.

A common theme at state and national groundwater conventions for the past 20 years has been how to recruit new drillers. In the past 10 years, that theme added the topic of hiring and working with millennials. The National Ground Water Association’s 2019 Groundwater Week conference last month had several topics on millennials. My next generation driller challenge requires two critical components. First, as an industry, we must stop believing that millennials are hard to hire and retain. The reality is the millennials that want to work in our industry have been hired and are working successfully because they utilize the previous four challenges. The second part of this challenge is to focus on the great pool of candidates available in generation Z. 

Embracing the Science Challenge

We have 30 years to teach, train and develop experts that can fight the global water crisis. Every aspect of the groundwater industry has an engineered solution that can be applied to complete a project. As an industry, it is common practice to simplify the process. We have a fear of over-complicating the drilling process. I often hear, “Don’t make this into a science project.” However, a science project is precisely what is required to find the best solutions to the global water crisis.

My final challenge is to embrace the science of the job. Expect to apply the necessary principles of physics, geometry, chemistry and biology for success. A drill team that knows and understands the parameters of the project will work together to embrace the science of the job. 

For 21st-century drillers and the companies they lead, the next 20 years will determine if we are capable of providing water and resources to a world population of 10.5 billion people. Taking on these challenges is a good start to having the ability to implement engineered solutions to overcome any situation.