You Are Remembered by the Rules You Break

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


You and I, we're living in incredible times. We’re instantly surrounded by people to support and educate us though the worldwide web and social media forums. We’re overwhelmed by the crowd and sheer number of potential informative advice that often bombards us from every angle. Yet thirty, forty, sixty years ago, you weren’t able to call upon such wide-ranging help. More often than not, you "flew by the seat of your britches." When situations, opportunities, issues, changes in the economy hit your business--you name it--what did you do? More times than not, all you had to deal with it was…yourself! You'd sit alone with your thoughts, analyze, soul search, dissect, study, etc., and eventually, it was often that inner, intuitive side that kicked in, and you did something! Often times you felt you had to "break rules" to move ahead.

In my continuing "Life's Journey," I had my eleven year stint with the national building material firm that (l might add) no longer exists! Theirs was a program of jumping back and forth between "Retail" and "Contractor" business...Often with no clear direction with either model. The one thing I "assumed" early on, was that we should be making money! What a novel idea. I pretty much ignored their protocol "Managing by the Numbers," or another famous "One-liner" of theirs, “Control to the Bottom Line." It seemed that no matter how much we cut expenses, cheapened up on labor, built "Volume," etc., we'd (the company) just "lose more." So, I wondered, "Why aren't we getting to keep at least a bit of what we kill?" That question ended up putting me on a path that would wriggle free from some of the rules.

So what happened? In my Division or "Center" as we called it, I set about on a different course. (''Breaking a bunch of rules!) We built a base of strong service, added good people that could get the job done, and even purchased equipment when I wasn't really authorized to. And I was being "threatened" constantly for being a "Maverick" (Rule Breaker?), but still acknowledged for being quite successful. Although the corporate head office hated that I had become good at "circumventing the system"...at the end of the day, we ran one of the most profitable Centers in the region! To me, our success wasn’t really a surprise.

So the point in my ramblings? Today we live in a grand digital world…We can call up "Metrics" and "Spreadsheets,” build "Critical Paths" with a specific timeline, and much more. Maybe by the time we have all this great-looking "theory and numbers stuff" in front of us, we forget one of the most basic rules: "The reason for having, or building a plan, is not to have a plan...but to get RESULTS! And the point then, is how important it is that the "intuitive" side...”gut feeling"..."common sense"… must enter into the equation. No, I'm not suggesting any of us just go out and just start “breaking rules.” We all have to always indulge in that arena in a very measured, thought-through way. Bill Thompson, a friend of mine, summed it up very correctly when he commented: "Al, what I really like about KIMAL is it seems you folks can do almost anything you want to." Then he added the "one-liner" I'll never forget..."As long as what you do isn't immoral, illegal, or unethical."...Well said, Bill.

So, my message is simple. I think today we have the best of both worlds…The ability to prepare a "Plan" better than we ever have, but along with it is that "Grey" stuff between our ears. When we use both smartly and wisely, it's pretty hard to fail.

A humorous sideline….

I had a builder whose credit and paying history got so bad, in frustration one day, as I ‘fired him,’ I blurted out: “ You're ability to pay has gotten so bad, you now need a co-signer to pay cash!!"


Al E. Bavry, CEO, Kimal Lumber & Hardware 6/8/2016

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