Due diligence is as important to engineers as water is to a fish. By definition, due diligence is any number of concepts or processes involving an investigation of a design, engineering calculation, contract, or some other item where a certain standard of care is needed. We like to know the bridge we’re driving on won’t collapse or the airplane we’re flying in won’t disassemble in the sky.
As professionals, we understand due diligence in our professional business. How about applying due diligence in our personal business, the segment that matters most to us? The whole rationale for applying due diligence in our professional undertakings is to protect others from pitfalls resulting from oversight, ensuring operations in areas of competence and being honest. Applied in our personal actions, it shows up like this:
Life, Safety, Health. Establishing plans/programs for our life, safety and health and re-evaluating these periodically to ensure we’re maximizing our capacity for delivering the goods. Think eating right, getting adequate sleep, having a solid PT regimen, and not taking unplanned physical risks.
Operating in our Competence Zone. Doing what we know and knowing what we don’t. If we have a knowledge gap, we note how important this is to reaching our goals and then either get smart or find someone that can be smart for us in that particular area. We don’t take action in areas where we lack the know-how on the job, don’t do it in your life.
Being Honest. As professionals, we wouldn’t dream of lying to our clients or colleagues, so why would we lie to ourselves? Lying to ourselves shows up whenever we rationalize an action or event to make it easier to accept. It can be hard to catch, but we need to be on the look out the “R-word” and be above the board at all times with ourselves.
It’s easy to cut ourselves slack when no one’s watching. Slipping on the PT or diet regimen, allowing ourselves to get outside the lanes on what we know (or just not undertaking something because we have invest time/energy in getting smart), or rationalizing why we just spent the entire day in mindless tasks doesn’t help anyone, including the most important person…you. Apply due diligence in your undertakings and ensure your most important client (that’s you!) receives the best standard of care possible.
“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.” Benjamin Disraeli
Christian J. Knutson, P.E., PMP
Engineering Management Institute