Monday, May 15, 2017

Fun with Kindergarten





I think I've mentioned before that one of my brothers is in the process of joining the ranching operation. The way that works is a bit complicated (not terribly complicated!) and I think I should explain some of the nuts and bolts, at least so long as I'm going to be writing about some of the day-to-day details.
Fond d'écran 10 swodniw pour Sarge.

There are six of us kids, five boys and a girl. I'm the oldest, the brother who is joining up is the fourth oldest. All of us grew up on the ranch. We all had 4-H and FFA livestock projects, we all did the same chores, we all worked on the ranch before and after school and through the summer. So we all have the same ranch background and it gives us all a seemingly comprehensive understanding of the way things have to work on our ranch in order for the ranch to survive.


But as it turns out, there's a lot more to ranching than sweat equity. It's the difference between labor and management. When you're labor, you think you know how everything works. You understand the concepts of management -- they're really not that hard.

What you don't understand is what it's actually like to be making decisions and charting courses. You really don't get it until you sit there with a pen in your hand and prepare to sign off on something. What you don't understand is that you have to chart a single course from among thousands of possible courses, and that there's no way to know ahead of time if you've picked the right one. You bring all your knowledge and wisdom and experience to bear on the problem, and you do what looks like the best thing for the best reasons. But there's no guarantee it'll work out. You'll probably survive and make it safely to port. But you might take a lot of damage along the way. And you might end up on the rocks with the guts torn out of the ship. Hmmm. Navy metaphors actually work rather nicely.


It's a profound difference.

From the labor standpoint there are also things to learn that were never covered in growin'-up-on-the-ranch. Kind of the management aspect of labor. I have a lot of experience with the chores we do and have been able to test a lot of good ideas against the reality of what actually works. I've learned a lot of tricks to improve efficiency, and I've also learned where saving a step will cost a dozen when all is said and done.


As it turns out I have a lot of information in my head that no one else in the family has. Most of it is good, useful stuff, but sorting out the good from the doesn't matter and figuring out how to share it is a challenge.

Now I find myself in a position of teaching and leading. I knew this was coming and thought I was prepared. Turns out I wasn't. Or at least not as prepared as I thought I was, or as I hoped I'd be.


I've been doing things my way for a good 20 years or so. I've developed a good feel for how things flow, what works and what doesn't, how to approach and prioritize tasks and problems, how to juggle complexities.

What I haven't done over the last few decades is learn how to articulate and explain.


So while building some fence today with my brother I kept wondering what the hell was wrong with him. Why he was constantly doing things the stupid way, why he couldn't come to grips with a dead-simple mini project.

And the answer is that he hasn't had the practice and experience that I've had. He's brilliantly successful in his career field, but he's just starting out in the ranching field. Were our roles reversed, and if I was joining his trade under his instruction, he'd be asking himself the same questions about my basic competency.


There's not a damme thing wrong with his basic competency. Mine, on the other hand, needs a bit of polishing. And that's the truth.

Fortunately for me, I've done this teaching/leading thing before. But it was a long time ago, in the navy, and I'm badly out of practice.


I'm beginning to see that the difference between success and failure in this venture is a lot more dependent on my teaching and leading than it is on his bag of skills and tools. Of the two of us, I'm the only one who can really blow the whole thing up.

That surprises me.

But I'm really, really glad that I figured it out now rather than later.


When I was a young corpsman learning the ropes I was introduced to the concept of "watch one, do one, teach one." In the ranching business I've done a lot of watching and a lot of doing. Now it's time to do some teaching.






22 comments:

  1. Nice verticalocity on those post! Your brother was a fireman, correct? Your brother would have had an easier time teaching you, I should think. Didn't the Navy teach you how to at least point a 2 1/2" line?

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    1. Indeed they did. I was actually a fairly good firefighter at one time.

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  2. Yes, teaching is much different than doing. Not necessarily harder, just different. I'm sure if will come back to you soon. I'm happy to read that you'll have your brother's help, that sort of help is very rewarding. Thanks for the post.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Thanks Paul. I think it'll all shake out very well.

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  3. We used the same "watch one, do one, teach one" technique in the Corps when I joined my squadron in the early 80's to work on Skyhawks. I still use the same technique when teaching junior IT folks new concepts and tasks now. Your post reminded me where I learned it and what it was called.

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    1. Some things the military just gets right. A-4M's?

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    2. A-4M, TA-4F, TA-4J. VMAT-102, MCAS Yuma

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    3. Made a number of weapons dets to Yuma back in the early 80's. Only time I ever got to see VMF-214 jets live and in person. Greg Boyington was there for some kind of celebration during one det and I wanted to get his autograph but was too shy.

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    4. During the WTI's, we were told to scat. We usually took about 1/2 to 2/3 of the squadron and went to such charming locales as NAS Fallon near Reno, NAS China Lake, and once Hill AFB near SLC. We were dis-invited from future TDY's at Hill due to a large scale disagreement with some of the Air Force types. Funny thing, same thing happened in Fallon with a disagreement involving some Seabees.

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    5. (Should have been VMFA-214) Yeah, being on Det is a two-edged sword. I always wondered why there we so few Marines and aircraft when we were in Yuma, now I know. I got to fly a lot with station SAR and went to some epic BBQ's with those dudes.

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  4. Funny thing, that perspective!

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  5. Interesting post, and oh so true. You will do just fine, because you get it, going into it.

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  6. For the task there always seemed to be one right way to do it. For many tasks there seemed to be so many different right ways of doing. I always found it best if management was, somehow, diverted from directly supervising the way the task got done but then, I'm pretty sure I hardly ever did it right.
    Somehow, few grasp the power of merely putting one's hands in one's pocket and walking away with a parting invite to the taskee to, 'see you later when you're done.' OTOH, you gotta have faith in them that are learning the job and expect a few, minor, setbacks along the way.

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    1. Exactly. Mistakes and fixing mistakes are part of the deal.

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  7. You just got a new cat from Echo Valley? That you just unpacked?

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    1. The cat took possession of a Mothers Day gift box. Almost had him taped up for shipping but he got away.

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  8. If that was you the other day working fence out of a red pickup, seemed like the teacher was leaning on a shovel and the student was stretching barbed wire.

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    1. Wasn't me. White pickup and we're not that advanced yet.

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  9. Koi!

    (Forgive me, I'm playing catch up...)

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    1. I saw those fish on my computer screen and I said, "those look like Sarge's fish."

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