The Right Tool at the Right Time

After about a year of writing my “Notes from the Southwest Corner,” i began a second weekly column entitled “Minding Your Own Business” in 2009. Amelia Hipps, the editor at the time, was kind enough to take on both columns in the Lebanon Democrat. i wrote 296 of those columns. New management decided $50 a week was too expensive and that column was stopped. It was probably a good thing because i was beginning to make things up.

The idea was generated when JD Waits and i co-wrote The Pretty Good Management Book in the early 1990’s. The manuscript remains above my desk.

In the middle 1990’s, i wrote a similar column for The Independent Community Post, a small local paper in Bonita, which only lasted for less than two years. That editor came up with the title “Minding Your Own Business.” i will include the Democrat columns here under JD’s and my title of “Pretty Good Management” because of the source.

We began writing our book with the idea most high end consultants try to sell a perfect system to make an organization run smoothly with minimal management and leadership. That, of course, never happens. JD pointed out his and my mothers would pay one of their highest compliments to anything with the term “pretty good,” as in leaving a fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh tomatoes supper and commenting, “That was a pretty good meal.” We figured we weren’t going to blow smoke and promise perfection, but that the principles we brought forward would allow a leader/manager to run a pretty good outfit.

i thought about the genre where the column fit and made up my on term: business leadership. The below was the introductory column for The Democrat.

Using the Right Tool at the Right Time

In forty-plus years of observing people and organizations working toward success, I frequently have been amazed at how bollixed up we can get.

Nearly all of us seem to have a pretty good idea of how we would like our business to work. Most of us have good intentions and pretty high ethical standards. Generally, we display a pride in our work and believe in our service or product. In most cases, the skills, intelligence, and common sense are sufficient to produce success are in place.

This seems to be true for nearly every kind of organization: profit or non-profit, product or service, large or small, technical and non-technical, government or commercial.

Invariably, a large number of businesses don’t fare as well as they should. We work hard but the rewards are elusive.

Why Are There Failures?

I continue to ask myself, “Why do people and businesses not succeed when they appear to be capable?

“Why do numerous people and businesses, which have initial success, have such a difficult time staying at the highest level of success?”

I do not have THE answer. Even more sadly, I haven’t seen anyone, any theory, any program, or any process which provides THE answer.

This suggests I too may never find the answer.

I refuse to believe this.

A Right Answer For You

Yet there is hope. Although there’s no single right answer, there is A right answer for you. Getting to your right answer is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be. If it becomes easy, it is about to change in a way you will not like.

Making lives and businesses work like we want them to work requires dedication and hard work. But it can be done, and this is enough to give us hope.

When I go out in my garage on the weekend to pursue some project, it is an amazing process. The garage is in disarray. I have a number of tools and materials in that garage, but finding them is a different matter. I normally can’t find the right ones. I become frustrated and head for Home Depot to buy new tools and materials.

I love this part. Wandering around a Home Depot is like visiting a wonderland of human nature and great gadgets. This fun part lasts until dark, delaying the project until the next day. And so it goes through the weekend. The project doesn’t get done, but I have lots of fun.

I can afford to do that with my garage, but neither you nor I can afford to do that with our work.

To succeed in our work, we must be organized. We must have tools and we must know how and when to use the right tools. It requires application, what our parents recognized and called “hard work.”

The good news, as I have discovered through my varied and lengthy experience, is doing it right can be mostly fun, especially if the hard work is done correctly and leads to success. It took me a long time to realize hard work can be fun.


Success doesn’t require genius or some special tool, process or some consultant selling tools and processes (although getting unbiased help and outside skilled facilitation is often a necessary assistance). Succeeding in business can be accomplished by knowing where you want to go, knowing how you want to get there, and making it happen.

This Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M) includes:

  • Taking care of your customers (and every business has customers)
  • Taking care of your people
  • Taking care of your finances
  • Being aware of your business environment
  • Doing what makes good business sense
  • Realistically assessing how you are doing in all of the above
  • Modifying what you are doing based on assessment
  • Working hard at all of the above

My plan is to write articles about what to consider in your quest for continual business success. The considerations will be around the basics I’ve listed above. This article is, hopefully, the first of many for you to use at your discretion.

My goal is to give you some ideas about how you want to conduct your business, not what you think I want you to do. I plan to work hard and have fun. I hope you do too.

1 thought on “The Right Tool at the Right Time

  1. I thought you were going to put on your jammies 😁 Setting goals and passion as you set out to achieve them will surely turn into a lifetime of fun I think. Brain is tired right now just my way of saying thank you for a lovely evening and the giggles.💕 Bless

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