I grew up on a farm in north western New South Wales, Australia. In my opinion it was one of the best groundings in life you can have. Many things observed and experienced as a child growing up on the farm can be related to business.
One experience that comes to mind is the problem of weeds. This can be related to continuing to improve both your management performance and your business.
On our farm, weeds, specifically burrs and thistles were a major problem. In particular there was a burr called a Bathurst burr. Bathurst burr is amongst the most common and economically serious weeds in Australian agriculture. It readily adheres to the wool of sheep. Wool contaminated by Bathurst burrs is a substantial cost to the wool grower as additional processing is required to separate the burrs from the wool. The burr was first introduced to the city of Bathurst, Australia’s first settled inland city in about 1850. It was trapped in the tails of horses imported from Valparaiso in Chile. Perhaps it should have been called Chile burr!
As my father was a woolgrower, Bathurst burr was a major issue. As children we were often sent out with a hoe to chip Bathurst Burr along the outside of the cultivation paddocks and roadside. Call it character building. However, compared to other properties in the district our farm had relatively small amounts of this burr.
Why was this so?
It was not from our childhood efforts chipping weeds along the roadside!
It was due to my Dad, who was constantly on the lookout for burrs. When horse riding whenever he saw a Bathurst burr, he would dismount from his horse and pull it out. As children we were fascinated by this obsession of eradicating Bathurst burrs and would often point them out to him if he missed one (this was very rare as being an Aussie bushman he had excellent eye sight).
By comparison, my school friend Graham who also lived on a farm had a different experience. I can remember his father’s place having far more burrs than ours. Like my father, his father would often send him out chipping burrs. However, his father became ill, involving hospitalisation and was unable to walk around his farm and keep burrs under control.
What was the difference?
It was because of the constant attention to keeping the burrs under control – often on a daily basis.
And this is the lesson for managers and business owners. Managing is not about platitudes, big schemes and projects. It is about constant attention to detail, continuing seeking ways to improve……… everyday.
As a manager are you keeping the burrs in your organisation under control?