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DI(e)LOs – we nearly did

September, 05 2022

DILOs tell us so much, but by the cringe, I dread them like root canal.

When the senior leadership team see the potential extrapolated from DILOs it helps with the pain of having to do them.  But really, honestly, I'm just a broken man at the end of a DILO week. If anybody phones up following this post asking for a DILO, they can go find a lake and jump. I repeat, DI(e)LOs are for the young.

What's a DI(e)LO, I hear you say?  Day In The Life Of - observing tasks being executed. The (e) is there simply for effect: die. After 4 days it feels a bit like death.

DILO in Colombia

It was a big one.  We were asked for a productivity gap analysis across two mine sites and I said yes before I knew the enormity of it.   I knew we were in trouble the moment the wheels landed on-site. More scarily, Jonesy had suspected all along I'd over-promised and, the moment the plane circled the mine before landing, the look on his face told me he would never forgive me for this one.  I could feel the heat from his stare as I looked out the window.  It was hot in this part of Colombia but not as hot as those needles in the back of my neck.

The DI(e)LO Dream Team

Mark Radley

Mark Radley - Director - passable consultant


Chris Jones

Chris Jones - Director of Consulting - crusher of Radley's grand schemes


Bob - Customer Services Diector

Bob Newton - Director Customer Services - general mardy b@*#@*d


Roger Bent - Senior Consultant

Roger Bent - Senior Consultant - gentle soul, maintenance enthusiast, innocent victim of a DILO

Day 0

We haven't started yet.  We are unpacking. Roger is having a last cig outside sharing it with the mozzies.  Bob is trying to pick up 5 Live for the Arsenal match. Jonesy is in my doorway.  Points his finger, can't find the words of disdain, then leaves to join Roger.  When Jonesy smokes, you know things are bad.

Day 1-5

We set up into two teams, morning and nights. I get nights - it's the first time I see Jonesey crack a smile. We plan to follow eight big trucks throughout their 12 hour maintenance inputs. Now it's about the do.  It's 28c at night. I'm trying to keep up with the front team. After two hours my legs are shot. After 4 hours my back is spasming. A siren goes for lunch and I can't face the 300 yard walk to the canteen.  And so it continued.

I passed the morning team on their way to breakfast.  I gave a jolly wave as all good leaders must. Jonesy mouthed something rude that is known to all English speakers and premiership referees. I hobbled to my digs and collapsed.  We rinsed and repeated until the Friday. By the second day we were eating porridge out of coke cans to avoid breakfast and have an extra half hour in bed with the air-con.

Then I cancelled the weekend trip to Santa Marta (imagine beaches, bars, sun-beds) to crunch the first round of data.  I thought we could get it done in the week. Fun times.  Arsenal lost. Jonesy smoked. Data crunched. Roger took it all in his stride.

Day 7-9 The Shovel that broke us

We did a lot of stuff. We mapped logistics, we assessed huddles, 1-2-1s with leaders and then decided to DILO a shovel in the mine.  Well, actually, if I'm truthful, I decided we would.  I must have a death wish.  I'm not sure why Jonesy is still with us.  It's as if he has been sentenced by the gods above to be punished with 30 years service in GENEO.

We had a 2:30am start. Porridge wolfed, water bottles filled, sun cream on.  We reach the bottom of the open pit. It's pitch black and humid.  The DILO is underway by 3:30am and the sweat is pooling in my boots.  In the floodlights we are watching a welder in full leather protection gear working on the arm and wondering how it is possible.  The same fellah came up to us in the break and shared some of his iced water.  Not a bead of sweat on him.  How?!

By 8am the sun had come over the ridge and we melted like the snowflakes we truly were. Mardy Bob had no words.  Jonesy was grimacing, a rictus smile with eyes of thunder.  Roger was busy with some technical stuff. And I felt like a stick of biltong.  We hydrated, we observed, we did all the things we should but the shovel was not finished with us as it exposed opportunity after opportunity.  The shovel extended our impromptu, 6 hour DILO to a 3 shift marathon.  More back-breaking, legs-to-jelly observations until, finally, it was over.  We shuffled back to our digs and swore we would never do another DILO. It was for the youngsters.  We need to take on apprentices and make them do this kind of thing. Character building. 

Close Out

All is good. The numbers are great and the senior team are all smiles. 


We are on the plane to Bogota.  It is so noisy we are issued ear plugs.  We are broken. There are no words. Jonesy is two seats in front. He turns around and waves to get my attention. I look at him. He mouths that word again, unmistakeable. Then turns round and sleeps.

Lessons Learned

  • Urmm... don't over-promise
  • Take Jonesy with you to bail you out
  • Always have a coke can



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