In OT, is it Work Smarter, Not Harder?

by | Nov 11, 2021 | Operations Technology

Whoever said, “work smarter, not harder” was wrong.

As alarming as that may sound, I don’t mean the opposite, (work harder, not smarter) is right either. In my experience, working smarter is sometimes my hardest work. The difference is that no matter how much harder working “smarter” requires, the successful result pays out benefits that are always worth more than the effort.

Working Smarter is hard work, but of all work, smarter work it is the most rewarding and satisfying work – period.

A few years ago, I found myself inundated and buried with new IT network requirements. Some of the systems we used to control building equipment was Java based. Java, as you may recall, was exploited to hack Target.

Our IT Department was scrambling to shore up and prevent a similar event from happening to us. Long story short, both IT and OT teams were motivated to act and be done as of yesterday. If it could happen to Target, then it could happen to us. We felt caught off guard and we worried vulnerabilities we were blind to … a blindness we could not afford.

I especially felt this pressure as I was personally in charge of all North American OT networking and management related to HVAC and lighting, metering, solar, etc. Some locations under my management were using the same Java based system used to hack Target.

Thomas Edison famously said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In my case, urgency was the mother of my motivation. My sense of urgency prompted me to investigate new areas I had not previously considered. Urgency prompted me to deeper network with close business associates. In a real way, urgency woke me up from the weekly routines I had created for myself. Urgency awoke my “need” for new creativity, motivation, and competitive determination.

In a determined way, I felt challenged and motivated to thwart any potential hackers. In a friendly way, I was motivated and competitively challenged to provide a company wide solution before our IT Dept could … And, at the risk of bragging, I did! When IT heard about it, they were dismissive and promised to replace my solution with a better system within six months. 18 months later IT came back and admitted my solution was the right OT solution. They asked me how soon I could roll it out company wide.

I believe my success was achieved because I was motivated to work harder at being smarter! My sense of urgency opened me up to exploring “smarter” solutions I would have otherwise not fully considered. These smarter solutions met the corporate needs for companywide OT protection without compromising IT or adding additional requirements or cumbersome restrictions.

So, yes, work smarter, but don’t be afraid of working harder at being smarter.  Thank you!  Doug S.