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  • Writer's pictureRuss Newton

Another life lesson learned in 1987, Inclusion.

I was 27 years old and in my first Division Mangers Position at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. I thought I had to be the technical expert in this job. So one night I received a call at 1:30am and I dragged myself into work to see what the problem was that was preventing the guys from getting the paper out. I was feeling a lot of pressure as I tried to figure out why the press would start up but after hitting about 10,000 IPH the press would lose all the webs on one side of the press and shut down. Every time. I was standing there thinking hard about what would cause this to happen when a young press apprentice came up to me and said he noticed something happening that might be the problem. I almost told him to get lost but I decided I needed a distraction to get out of my head for a minute so i went with him. He explained that he was watching the last start up from the back side of the press and he swore that he saw one side of the press run a different speed then the other side. I was about to tell him that was impossible but I decided to stay there and watch the press start up. And son of gun, he was right! The units on the left side of the folder were turning at one speed but on the right side of the press the units were slowing down and that difference made all the webs pop out. I knew what it had to be then. I dropped to my knees and opened the door that allowed pressman to kick out one side of the press by breaking the line shaft. And as I watched the press shut down I saw the shaft separate ( the gears were pulled apart and not engaged) and then they reengaged when the press almost stopped. That was the issue! The lock down gear was bad and would hold the shaft in at low speed but when the press picked up speed and put torque on the shaft the bad lock down shaft would separate and the units would stop turning as fast and of course tear the webs out. This was a very unusual issue to have, in fact, it is the only time in over 40 years on the job that I saw this just that one time.

The lesson learned was this. Group think is always more powerful than the smartest person in the world. I needed to listen to everyone when trying to solve a problem, not just myself. That was the lesson learned. Engage all your people when you are troubleshooting and problem solving, you will learn more that way for sure. I learned to be inclusive in almost every circumstance. A valuable lesson to learn at young age and one I used over and over again throughout my career.

I will add this means including everyone no matter their race, sex or age. You can't succeed using only part of your workforce, you need to include everyone.

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