This newsletter article starts out talking about me...and maybe what has happened to our industry in the last fifty plus years. At the beginning of my career, it really was a "Studs and Plywood" down-and-dirty kind of business. I believe many of us ran very "reactive" business models. You’d start out the day, orders came in, and you shipped them out in some kind of order. Some of that action was just the reaction to whomever was screaming the loudest! We bought specialty and commodity goods as reps and vendors stopped by--some of those reps called on a timely basis and some were "just dropping in as the notion struck them." It was pretty casual, pretty loose a good part of the time. I even remember one competitor in the area that had a lumber guy who sat inside their main warehouse, on a nail keg…had a cash box at his side. If someone (like a "retail" customer) came in and he sold spruce boards or whatever, he just collected money and made change out of that cash box. And there was little paperwork that went along with it. I guess whatever cash was "over" from what he started with in the morning went into the company safe.
We've changed a lot since then. We started using calculators segueing into computers, and within a couple of decades, became much more sophisticated. So here we are today...A whole lot "smarter." So what have we gained...and lost? Back "In the Day" (I hate it when I keep "dating" myself!), I have to admit that doing business the "reactive" way may have seemed incredibly "loose" but what most of us did have was a pretty darn keen "sixth sense" or "common sense" approach to conducting business, blended with a fair amount of "Maverick." Buying goods often became "negotiation" which was kind of expected. In general, even though a lot of it was "flying by the seat of our britches," we tended to do pretty good--in spite of the "looseness."
This “looseness” ended when I did my stint with the Big Corporation. Now spreadsheets and precise metrics became the rule of the day. You were told you had to "manage by the numbers." Everything became quantifiable or being subject "grading" and “measuring”…took the guesswork out. Well sort of. And back to the Big Corporation...I remember an edict coming out that said that all new management hires had to have a college degree. No more "flying by your own common sense and internal smarts." A group of us were sitting around talking about this new edict, and made the comment that not a single one of us would meet that criteria that day. Even though most of us were successful to highly successful, almost none had gotten past high school. (A few hadn't gotten past Grade School!)
So, I am part of a great evolution going on in our industry. We all are, for the most part. And of course we can't do business the way we used to. But I'm learning, more than ever, that those Kimal Associates who aren’t afraid to "Step Outside the Box," try some new things, and play the "Maverick" are the ones that truly stand out...for the good of the company, and all involved. They understand that "street smarts" and "common sense" are just that. We tend to stay successful to this day, not because we know how to follow rigid rules, but how to step outside the lines when it simply comes down to: Doing the right thing! Yes, being "Maverick" can be dangerous, and requires a real balance. Occasionally breaking the rules for good reasons is willfully tolerated as long as it's done for the right reasons and it doesn't simply circumvent good protocol.
If we all look at our operations "Internally" and ask some honest questions: Are we doing it the "Old" way, and not changing or willing to change? Or are we so regimented that "If it isn't part of the metrics and spreadsheet criteria, we won't do it"? So, after all this "rant" I guess the true message of all this is: When we can take an everyday day world view of what is happening and "Orchestrate" results that create a "Win-Win" for all, following good 'Protocol", infused with a "Maverick" quality into it...then we've done the correct thing for all. Never, ever lose that "Maverick" edge.