Mine Games

This month I traveled to Louisiana to work for a day with the U.S. Director of five salt mines. This person grew up in France, lives in Montreal, and spends 48 weeks a year on the road.

These are three lessons learned during my visit:

1) This leader stepped in a while ago on an interim basis as GM of the plant. Twice he brought in someone… and it didn’t work out, yet he avoided the temptation to rush. Sixteen months and a lot of 18-hour days later, the right person appeared. The day after I departed, the leader went back to his ‘regular’ job.

2) I’ve worked for several years with leaders in the Canadian oil sands. That’s heavy-duty stuff. This was my first journey to a salt mine. I interviewed my client’s direct reports for feedback on his leadership style. After three of those I realized ‘mining is mining.’ Safety is placed above all else – including profit. As one person told me: “I’ve worked in 24 mines the past 30 years. This is my first salt mine. The only difference is the product leaves on a conveyor belt instead of a pipeline.” He was a fourth-generation miner and his two boys are now in the industry.

3) King Cakes purchased in Lafayette just before Mardi Gras taste a lot different than the ones we usually get at Kroger.


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