Friday, April 3, 2009

An e-mail from my mother and an excellent lesson on business efficiency

My mother replied to an e-mail in which I mentioned that my lawn mower is at the repairers, just at the time when I need it most. My mother is 80 years old and her lawn is bigger than a full size tennis court, with additional grass paths and grass covered orchards. In her reply she gives me seven valuable lessons in four lines of text, amazing:

Here’s what she wrote:


Can't you borrow a mower from a neighbour, friend or relative? I get my mowers serviced in the winter when it is 10% cheaper, I must admit that Judith takes it for me to where she gets her machines serviced. We cut all the grass today, using the big machine to pick up the leaves etc. Then I can use my mulcher, a smaller, manageable size with no grass box to empty, so much quicker.

Have a good weekend,

Love Mum xxx

The seven lessons:
Lesson one: be resourceful
Lesson two: solve the real problem and don’t complain
Llesson three: plan ahead
Lesson four: save on bottom line costs
Lesson five: delegate and get the task done,
Lesson six: be efficient; use the right tool for job
Lesson seven: put the right tools in the hands of the right employees

Here’s my reply:


Me and grass, we have a love / hate relationship – I try to ignore it and hope it goes away, it ignores me and keeps on growing!

Following your email I have put an annually reoccurring reminder in my computer to take the lawn mower in for a service on the first Saturday of December every year.

I think human evolution takes so long purely because the things we should do to improve, we don’t do – because for the most of us, planning ahead is not natural. In prehistoric times (and still today for the millions of those that are living on the edge) we lived for the now moment, each day, live or die.

In business I learned to plan ahead and have created elaborate focus, planning and progress measuring systems – but in my private life, I simply want to go home, chill out, listen to radio 4 and drink a glass of white wine in the sunshine – all the rest is an unwelcome interruption ;-)

Love Harley xxx

I know my mother, I know she’s going to reply “Harley, stop theorising and just get on with it, if you follow my advice – you won’t have to even cut the grass yourself , you lazy swine!“

If my wife reads this blog, I'll have to go and borrow my neighbours lawn mower and I'll spend my sunny Saturday cutting grass - I need an excuse, quick!


Somme said...

The only excuse you would maybe be able to use on your wife is that you had planned to buy her a gift on Saturday but this will cost so your lawn will still not be mowed.

Calling in a gardener seems like a good solution... It will enable you to get your lawn mowed, buy a gift for your wife, enjoy a glass of wine in the garden and.... get some extra tax deductible expenses :-)

Peter Vantieghem said...

The only excuse you would maybe be able to use on your wife is that you had planned to buy her a gift on Saturday...

So here is my advice: call in a gardener, go to the city to grab some beers and a gift for your wife. Of course, she will expect something nice so don't mind spending a few extra euros. Go home, inspect your mowed lawn and enjoy a glass of white wine together with your wife.

Surely, being an interim manager the cost managing think was only a weak excuse? :-)



Anonymous said...

Hi Harley,
I learnt that the right time for the first mown of the lawn in springtime is early May.

Maybe this is the excuse to stay away from your garden, having almost four weeks time to get the old maschine working or the choose a new one.

Have a nice and sunny weekend!

Harley Lovegrove said...

I like the early May excuse, I hope there's some good ecological or biological reason for it? I am also keen on saving the planet and lawn mowers do use a lot of petrol and release toxic gases and give off heat... but then again I cannot go back to using a scythe!

Bertrand Potier said...

So practical, so true and so full of that look at life that I love and am constantly trying to apply to my life, should it be the professional or the personal one. It is indeed not natural but we also have to consider that anything we know we have to do, should we even try hard to ignore it and dig it in our mind, is wasting some brain cells and some of our capacity to relax, focus, think, etc.
The accumulation of such small to big things can have serious consequences we usually don't consider: why am I so tired ? why do I react like this ? I'm so not able to focus today, etc. etc.
Making use of our calendar, to do list and reminders is the most efficient way to avoid all this, to keep some of our brain capacity free and make sure things are getting done indeed. Here as in a lot of areas, technology can help and some good tools do exist to help us (should anyone look for a good way to synchronize an Outlook, Google and an iPhone for multiple calendars, professional and personal ones, let me know :) ).

Anonymous said...

Hello Harley,
Down here in Santiago de Chile labour is so cheap that nobody with your type of professional background would dream about mowing the lawn (even in their wildest nightmares!)... Does that teach us a lesson?
For the rest, lesson No 1: mothers are always right. Yours seems indeed to be particularly fitting the axiom!
See you soon. Greetings from sunny Chile!

Yvo Brasseur said...

Hi Harley,

go to your neighbour, convince him of your agony, help him to take his lawn mower in for a service, and then enjoy a good glass of white wine together with your wife and the neighbours !

Anonymous said...

Indeed May is the best time of year to cut your grass. Sit back, relax and let it grow!