2021-09-13 4 min read


Notes, 2021-09-13.

Back in the first wave of the pandemic, I expressed concerns here about the long term erosion of corporate productivity and camaraderie due to the transition to remote work. I believe interaction at the office helps share systems knowledge, solve complex problems, and build relationships that make people happier. Fast forward and from March through July 2021, 19 million workers quit their jobs in what is being called “The Great Resignation.” There are a ton of factors that contribute to a trend like this; my theory is that with a more distant connection to where you work, a job becomes more transactional. And when a collective mission is reduced to an individual transaction, one is more likely to ask, “Is this worth it to me?” - and the follow-up, “Can I do better?”

On LinkedIn, I see a lot of people post about remote work saying they are more happy and productive than ever, but I wager there is a bit of self selection going on. It takes courage to admit to being anything but productive on a social media platform for professionals, especially one that you know your manager is on. Meanwhile, amongst friends and in The Prepared’s Members’ Slack, there are more honest conversations being had about maintaining purpose and avoiding burnout. Because while this has been a challenging time for companies, it has been an even more challenging time for the people who build them. Companies that acknowledge this and take steps to support their employees have the opportunity to convert burnout into loyalty.

-Sean Kelley

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~22% of opens) was an analysis of the unintended consequences of plastic bag bans in California. In the Members' Slack this week, we've been speculating about the impacts of plastic resin shortages and sharing strategies for soundproofing rooms so babies can nap.

Planning & Strategy.

  • Forbes’ list of the 300 Best Employers for Women in 2021. There are only 6 manufacturing companies on the list, the highest of which is Siemens (at #97). The highest aerospace & defense company is Northrop Grumman (#116); the highest auto company is BMW (#163); the highest electronics company is Dell (#110); the highest construction company is Burns & McDonnell (#70). The highest heavy industry company overall is BNSF Railway (#6), the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary whose CEO, Kathryn Farmer, is the first female chief executive of a Class I US railroad.
  • While electric vehicles promise to create a more sustainable future, mining and recycling precious metals for all the batteries pose environmental challenges.
  • Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was excited about the promise of a high-speed rail connecting SF to LA. But after 13 years of construction delays and cost overruns, not a single section of the route has been completed. There is hope for high speed rail in the USA; Texas is implementing Tokyo’s Shinkansen system to connect Dallas and Houston by 2026.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


  • The Waffle House Index is an informal measure for the severity of a storm. It’s based on Waffle House’s impressive ability to stay open during severe weather conditions - or reopen quickly after them.

Tokyo’s Massive Underground Flood Tank.

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