Friday, July 23, 2010

You can't have Quick and Cheap and Good Today!

A Triplicate of Choice?
My dad came up with a most interesting and insightful observation when I was in high school.  I've thought about it often..and pass it on as one of the truly great practical pearls of wisdom he passed on to me.

Some might call this a TRIPLICATE of CHOICE--narrowing a decision for a prospect or friend--but I don't think so--these are "Choose two and one just doesn't fit!"

I'm proud of my father, Milo S. Howe.  He was an enthusiastic man with many gifts.  Like my son, he was a genius from his wrists down.  He could fix absolutely anything--and into his 80s he was still perfecting the mechanical skills that he started developing in a comfortable barn at the machine shop on a rainy day in Nebraska farm country.  He loved the rain for what it did for his crops--and for what it allowed him to do indoors during the day.  He took on extra work for extra family dough--a bicycle shop, a key business-- He even cut hair with hand operated clippers after his service in Europe was over at the end of WWII.  His tips paid the downpayment on our first little house.    

His Father, Grampa Walter was a mechanic who could fix anything at the Alphalfa mill--almost til the day he died.   I inherited some of--but most of that skill jumped me and went into my two great kids.   

One of my greatest memories of Jeff and Sally was the Autumn night they tore on the motor in her Colt Vista and spread the parts on a clean white sheet in the basement--and polished and re-oiled every single spring and washer.  It's great when you raise kids who can DO THINGS!

Chris and Ellen's second child--James is our BOB THE BUILDER.   He's 7 and already learning to mow our front lawn.  He loves to measure and saw!  He is a dervish hammer jockey!  It's great when you raise gramkids who can put tools to work and DO THINGS!

Here's the Pearl of Wisdom from Milo:  "You can't have Quick and Cheap and Good all at once."  He taught me that summer afternoon that you could have two of the three along these lines:

1.  You could have GOOD and CHEAP if you didn't want it Quick.  We took several days to lay tile in our basement when most folks would have slapdashed it down there.   He wanted to have it just so he took his time and put up with my impatience.

2.  You could have it QUICK and CHEAP as long as you didn't want it GOOD.   Made in Japan in the 50s was a pretty good example of that concept.   Everything fell apart.   Japanese manufacturers kept shipping inferior junk over--and tried to make up for in quantity what they lacked in quality.   It took Quality Guru Edward Demming to get them to change their approach--today so much of what we buy of quality comes from the land of the rising sun.

3.  You could have it  GOOD and QUICK if you didn't care how CHEAP--make that how much extra you had to pay for the item or service in question!  As I learned to work in the Osmond quality SHOW BUSINESS factory, I was amazed at how they threw money away that my wife and I would have to plan and budget for the same things in our marriage.    Make no mistake, the Brothers and Marie are all thrifty--sometimes squeakily so--but when there's an opening night looming they think nothing of calling one of their friends in the business and taking delivery on an expensive prop or costume--no matter what the cost--and only if they can have it on a plane and to the theater by noon the next day!

This Good and Quick no matter what the cost afflicted my last employer.   He never used a budget--which is reckless for a CEO of more than 100 emplohyees.  It was a CASHFLOW business, after all---even if he had to wait a week or two to have enough uncommitted money to buy stamps to send out his receivables!  It eventually did him in--and after riding high for years and years, he couldn't adapt to a downward marketing (The real estate bubble burst all over him)  He closed his doors and called the Bankrupcy attornies!

My long term goal in life is to win the Irving J. Thalberg Award at the Academy Awards.  Thalberg was the planning and production genius that made the movies run on time when Louie B. Mayer was the boss at MGM.  He lived the mantra that Proper Prior Planning prevents panic.  I've seen his production charts for some of the greatest movies ever made.  It was his industrially developed version of Microsoft Project.  Every little detail had a place, a process and an outcome--that he could follow up with a few good conversations and a phone call or two of follow up.   

Acting attracted me to show business--me with a great face for radio --Playwriting Scripts, Promotion ideas and Rules has kept me involved all these years (In the beginning was the Word etc., but being a Producer-- that's my favorite part.  Life can be "produced" if you develop the planning, execution and follow up skills.  If it absolutely doesn't have to be done this week, I can usually turn it out for you--or get someone to do it.

Brigham Young was the ultimate producer.  Said he, "It is good to do the work of ten men, but it is greater to get ten men to do the work!"

God, I believe was a producer in an earlier life.  See the post about what occupation our Heavenly Father from the point of view of Chicago Author/Attorney Scott Turow, "Grampa, what did God do for a Living?"  

God, the Father and his Son, the Savior of the World know that you can't have Quick and Cheap and Good Today!  But with a little planning it can be "produced"! JWC

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