Stepping up to the plate, at home and at WEFTEC

George S. Hawkins
Posted Dec. 11, 2013
 

 

The year’s annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®), attracting more than 22,000 attendees, sparked an unexpected reaction from me. I was intimidated.
  

Each session I attended featured presentations by some of the best in our industry that described technical and policy marvels. Even at the helm of DC Water (Washington), one of the larger utilities represented at WEFTEC, I still frequently felt that we were inadequate by comparison. Thus, for my final presentation on sustainability, I wrote down eight steps to get started and not be intimidated — as much for me as for the audience. These steps might apply to any subject.  

  1. Don’t worry where you are now; focus on where you are going. While every utility shines in certain areas, all have weaknesses. If we recognize an area that needs improvements, don’t be held back by comparing how far it is from world-class. I try to use the best performers to set my navigation for a sense of direction, then pull back and start focusing on the practical small steps that can get us started. Once we start, progress will come.   
  2. Focus on immediate, visible wins. There always are critics and naysayers resistant to change, no matter what the subject or objective. The greatest risk with introducing change is setting initial goals that are too high. Identify some objectives that are meaningful, visible, and can be attained within a reasonable time-frame. Gaining early wins can be the best response to the naysayers and will help generate momentum for future larger or tougher changes.   
  3. Look inside first. Before we launched a comprehensive effort to change DC Water’s relationship with our external customers and stakeholders, I spent almost a year listening and working to improve the inside of our organization. I wanted our folks to know I had heard their concerns before suggesting change. We implemented a few high-profile ideas directly from staff and field-tested many of our external ideas on the inside first. Staff who live and breathe our work need to feel these changes are their own and feel pride when we shift to sharing our work and ideas with the public.     
     

Read about other steps to improved utility management. 

 12/11/2013Permanent link

Stepping up to the plate, at home and at WEFTEC  ()
 

Stepping up to the plate, at home and at WEFTEC George S. HawkinsPosted Dec. 11, 2013    The year’s annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®), attracting more than 22,000 attendees, sparked an unexpected reaction from me. I

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Stepping up to the plate, at home and at WEFTEC

 Permanent link

Stepping up to the plate, at home and at WEFTEC

George S. Hawkins
Posted Dec. 11, 2013
 

 

The year’s annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®), attracting more than 22,000 attendees, sparked an unexpected reaction from me. I was intimidated.
  

Each session I attended featured presentations by some of the best in our industry that described technical and policy marvels. Even at the helm of DC Water (Washington), one of the larger utilities represented at WEFTEC, I still frequently felt that we were inadequate by comparison. Thus, for my final presentation on sustainability, I wrote down eight steps to get started and not be intimidated — as much for me as for the audience. These steps might apply to any subject.  

  1. Don’t worry where you are now; focus on where you are going. While every utility shines in certain areas, all have weaknesses. If we recognize an area that needs improvements, don’t be held back by comparing how far it is from world-class. I try to use the best performers to set my navigation for a sense of direction, then pull back and start focusing on the practical small steps that can get us started. Once we start, progress will come.   
  2. Focus on immediate, visible wins. There always are critics and naysayers resistant to change, no matter what the subject or objective. The greatest risk with introducing change is setting initial goals that are too high. Identify some objectives that are meaningful, visible, and can be attained within a reasonable time-frame. Gaining early wins can be the best response to the naysayers and will help generate momentum for future larger or tougher changes.   
  3. Look inside first. Before we launched a comprehensive effort to change DC Water’s relationship with our external customers and stakeholders, I spent almost a year listening and working to improve the inside of our organization. I wanted our folks to know I had heard their concerns before suggesting change. We implemented a few high-profile ideas directly from staff and field-tested many of our external ideas on the inside first. Staff who live and breathe our work need to feel these changes are their own and feel pride when we shift to sharing our work and ideas with the public.     
     

Read about other steps to improved utility management. 

Posted by Blaine Menelik at 12/11/2013 09:54:24 AM | 


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George S. HawkinsGeorge S. Hawkins, General Manager, DC Water 

George S. Hawkins is general manager of DC Water, which provides drinking water delivery and wastewater collection and treatment for a population of more than 600,000 in the District of Columbia, as well as the millions of people who work in or visit the District. DC Water operates the world’s largest advanced wastewater treatment plant and also treats wastewater for a population of 1.6 million in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia.

Mr. Hawkins began his career practicing law for the Boston firm Ropes & Gray, and is a member of the Bar in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University in 1983 and Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1987.