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Editors Note:  All of us have competitors in our business.  Do we learn from them?  This post is a memo that was sent to the team after a recent awards publication.  Are you and your team learning at every opportunity?

Presumably everyone has picked up a copy of the Aquatics International Dream Facility in which our 2006-concept design was featured, along with that of our competitors.  If you have studied all the designs and read all of the articles, you are an exception to human nature. The inclination is to read only the submittal of one’s own firm and possibly one or two others. I believe this transcends all of the entry firms and their respective staffs, and yet such behavior is contrary to the goals and objectives of Counsilman – Hunsaker.

General George S. Patton was successful against the clever and shrewd Irwin Rommel, AKA “the Desert Fox,” Germany’s great Panzer general in North Africa. When asked how he did it, Patton said; “I read his book” as well as those of Guderian and Von Manstein, other great German generals.

Between the articles submitted by the various design firms in the 2005 issue and the 2006 issues of AI, such “information” could easily cost between twenty and thirty thousand dollars, and yet, we tend to ignore the opinions and view points of other professionals for which our potential clients pay good money.  Shouldn’t we be curious? Otherwise, we churn to the same solution, over and over.

I recently sat down with the new issue and realizing that previously I had not bothered to completely read all of the other entries, I made myself do just that.  I found a number of new ideas, concepts and market niches that I had not thought about or were on the periphery of my awareness. I also identified what our competition may be saying when appearing before the same interview committees.

Taking time away from the press of current work, to gain the knowledge of others, is an example of the struggle between “the urgent and the important.”  If we are to consider ourselves professionals, and responsible for providing our clients with the best knowledge and recommendations, it’s logical that we should take every opportunity to know what others in our field are thinking. Please take time to read and remember the ideas of other successful people in aquatic design, who may have a different take on trends, niche markets, equipment design, the probable interest of future markets and the categorization of attractions, vis a vis, different geographical areas in the United States and beyond.

Years ago, Doc called me from the ASCA Conference, where he had just looked at a unique bulkhead which had a built-in touch pad.  I knew the designer/fabricator and told Doc he was not to be taken seriously because most people in the industry considered him a flake. Doc cautioned me to not be judgmental about the man’s ideas.  Even though he is not well regarded, we should learn as much about his product as possible because it may be valuable information in the future.

If you were on a flight and sitting next to any of the authors in these two editions, you would probably talk shop.  Why not educate yourself now.  It’s easy and it’s free.  Only a few people know how to live by their wits.

Assuming that each of you is familiar with the Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry, I’ll relate a story about the power of word pictures.  In 1987, a documentary movie, recently on HBO, was filmed about Chuck Berry.  It was his 60th birthday celebration and was performed at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis.  His sixty years did not show as he played, sang and did his trademark “duck walk”.  For the event, his sidemen included Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen, plus singers Linda Ronstadt, Little Richard and others.

The performances were interspersed with interviews with some of the performers, plus Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Bruce Springsteen was asked, “What made Chuck Berry exceptional and often called the father of Rock and Roll?”  Springsteen described how he was incomparable as a lyricist, a poet with music.  Springsteen related how Chuck Berry wrote and cut a record called Nadine.  A segment of the lyrics included something like: “Nadine, Nadine, you know you’ll come back, straight to my coffee-colored Cadillac.”  Springsteen said, “I’ve never seen a coffee-colored Cadillac, but I sure know what it looks like.”

I believe this is another example of the mind creating images that oftentimes reality cannot match.