Upcoming Publication: An Attitude of Craftsmanship

Posted on April 10, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Here’s an excerpt from Doug Powell’s latest article in Visions magazine, PDMA’s quarterly innovation and product development journal, due out by mid-April:


Image 1 - Cornish - smallRecently I had my piano restored by a local expert, Hamer. We purchased it eight years ago from a church that was getting a new one so that our children could begin taking lessons.  Turns out that it’s over a hundred years old, built by a New Jersey company, Cornish, in the year 1900.  Our first question for Hamer was, “is it worth saving?”  After an initial assessment, he explained that it was absolutely worth saving due to the quality of the materials and workmanship he observed and because much of the interior was still very well preserved.  After giving us the basic parameters for restoring, it he removed the front panel and gently lifted out the piano’s “action” which is the set of dampers and hammers that, respectively, end a note and start a note, and left for his shop.  A month later, accompanied by a clean and restored action, he returned and began the process of reinstalling and tuning it, all-the-while allowing me to watch and listen as he described the many inner-workings of our piano.

It struck me as I watched him polish the nearly 200 wire tension screws, align the dampers and hammers, and adjust each string to its perfect pitch, that I was in the presence of a real craftsman.  I wondered about craftsmanship and how it might relate beyond the work I was witnessing – to my own work and to that of others.  Can one be a craftsman of marketing, innovation, product design or risk analysis?

Image 2 - Dampers - smallTo answer we must first ask “what is craftsmanship?”  In my experience, “craftsmanship” is almost always only associated with hand crafted physical goods or services like furniture, carpentry or, in my case, piano restoration.  My definition of craftsmanship is rooted in two fundamental concepts…excellence and focus.  Excellence implies not only quality, but quality in the highest degree, satisfying both the base quality expected by the customer as well as a very high internal bar comprised of additional latent elements that won’t necessarily be expected, but greatly appreciated.   A craftsman possesses both great knowledge of the work necessary to produce excellence as well as the attention to detail necessary to recognize it from the beginning to the end of his or her work.  Finally, to attain focus, a craftsman must have the passion and patience to execute the detailed work to be done and possess the ability to focus on that work.


See the rest in the new digital Visions magazine at www.pdma.org.