In this issue we have contributions from practitioners who see a need for improvement in how some things are done. They are seeking to raise our awareness of limitations in everyday practices. They are not alone. The following quote is from Jackie Stewart, whom some (at least) of us remember as a Formula 1 race car driver and three times World Champion between 1965 and 1973:
It is not always possible to be the best, but it is always possible to improve your own performance
The contributors to this issue are not just commenting on the issues they see, but offering solutions. They epitomise the objectives of challenge – to openly acknowledge deficiencies and encourage change and adaptation leading to improved performance. While they are targeting professional issues and concerns, the simple fact is that none of us is perfect and there is ALWAYS room for improvement in everything we do, both personally and professionally.
Great results come from individual thoughts and actions. In engineering geology, the scale of rock mass weathering, RQD and GSI are examples of ideas that brought about huge improvements in technical approach and that have in turn fostered further change.
But the power of the group or team is equally important and is the best opportunity most of us will ever have to participate in creating improvements to techniques or project outcomes. I was recently reminded of one such example.
When Clyde Power Project (the Clyde dam landslides stabilisation project) was underway and the site was crowded with geologists, engineers, drill rigs and tunnellers trying to build reliable geological models for the designers, we initiated regular team meetings at which the senior staff shared their observations and thoughts (and those of their team members). From this we built a picture of variabilities and similarities in the ground conditions that helped each of us develop those models much more quickly and much more robustly than would have been possible working in isolation. And we did it without GSI, LiDAR or fancy ‘sophisticated’ software that tries to think for you.
These are all examples of the tools now available to help us do our jobs better. And there are new technological developments and future developments that will provide further assistance. None of them should fully replace the field observations and data assessments that we all do every day, and that we can all learn to do better. Use the new tools wisely but don’t rely on them, and always remember the words of Jackie Stewart: it is always possible to improve your own performance.
Don and Gabriele