Editor's Message: Reducing the Unknown Unknowns

Editor's Message

Editor's Message: Reducing the Unknown Unknowns

We are here to share your ideas and expand the industry’s best practices.

Best practices. It is a term we use a lot in SBC Magazine and throughout SBCA. We use this term because it efficiently labels a concept that is central to the association’s existence and at the core of the value the organization brings to the entire industry. Indeed, SBCA exists to bring component manufacturers (CMs) together from across North America and create opportunities for them to share the best of what they’ve learned as they continuously seek to overcome a variety of business challenges.

Quote there are unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don't know by Donald Rumsfeld

While every CM runs their operation a little bit differently, one of the greatest strengths of the component manufacturing industry is that every CM does essentially the same thing: turn building plans into individual structural element designs, buy raw materials, use those materials to make the structural elements, and get those structural elements to a jobsite. Within each of those steps are a million iterations on how to get it done based on the expectations and practices within the local market combined with a company’s strengths, weaknesses, and desire to grow and innovate.

It is human nature to attempt to solve problems using the information right in front of you. Certainly, one “best practice” is to formulate solutions with the input of those who are closest to the problem. Who understands it better than they do? However, the drawback to this approach is that we are hampered by our limited perspective. To reference a now infamous quote from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “there are unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don’t know.” 

SBCA and SBC Magazine serve to narrow the field of unknown unknowns for the industry. The more best practices we highlight in the magazine and the more CMs get engaged in SBCA events, the better our collective understanding of what is truly occurring as well as all the options for solving a problem. It should be pointed out that sometimes this approach helps CMs identify problems they didn’t even know they had but need to address immediately.

When particularly good solutions come out of these interactions, they become best practices. Sending BCSI documentation in jobsite packages with every component delivery is probably the most prominent best practice developed through SBCA but it is one of thousands identified and promoted by the association over its lifetime. Every best practice starts as an idea, an idea that gets batted around in meetings or at the bar. The idea is debated, refined, tested, further refined, and ultimately implemented successfully in the real world.

Those ideas don’t originate within SBCA, they come from you and your peers. The pages of this magazine serve only to provide a way to reach everyone collectively with those ideas in a timely way. So as we start 2021, we ask you to make a resolution. Share your ideas this year. Give us a call or shoot us an email if you encounter a new problem or discover a new way of doing things that works well for you. Come to SBCA’s Open Quarterly Meetings (OQMs) and make a plan right now to attend BCMC in October.

If you’re on the fence, here’s one last thing to consider: You may not think what you do is unique or revolutionary but given every CM does things a little differently, it is likely innovative to a CM somewhere else on this continent. 

Please share your ideas with us so that we can communicate them more broadly to the betterment of the entire industry. Email: editor@sbcmag.info
Sean D. Shields, Managing Editor