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Monday, September 7, 2020

Labor Day 2020

 Labor Day, 2020.

It's a cool morning, you could feel the drop of temperature a few weeks ago.  Still hot during the days, with bright sunny days, but the mornings and evenings reflect the temperate nature of our climate and the wild 35 degress to 80 degree swings a fall day can bring in the Catskills.

The thing about problem-solving is the process you use to solve said problems.  Business is, fundamentally, problem-solving (maybe life too, but that's someone else's purview of expertise).  And as I have been writing repeatedly, Catskill Farms has been beset with problems.  Many of these problems are the result of being busy and building a bunch of homes, and while not readily predictable, you know they are coming in one fashion or another.  You might not know when, or what, but you know on any given day, they are a comin'.  With these problems, we have a solid set of professional relationships - banking, insurance, surveying, engineering, trade, supply chain, etc..., we can leverage and deploy quickly in order to remedy and solve.

The other set of problems, the black swan problems, pose more of a hurdle, burden, and risk.   Typically new and unseen before, typically serious, typically disruptive.  Could be key-man/woman employee related, could be pandemic supply chain, regulatory, could be inflation, technology, illness, accident, etc...  Could even be your website of 20 years that has been a friend and partner was deleted by the morons over at Applied Innovations.

As the leader of the Catskill Farms, with my hands and brains and backbone still fully employed on a daily basis driving this machine forward, I've been confronted with both. Interestingly, many of the former used to be unexpected and grouped with the latter, but once you confront and solve a few times, they become annoying, distracting, and sometimes expensive, but still not a complete surprise.  The black swan events, the new problem (which can be bigger in scale as we grow bigger) poses unique challenges because it's new, there is no roadmap for solving, and typically in a small company there isn't bandwidth just laying around waiting to be deployed to solve a new problem, especially a big one.

Now that I'm on the backside of solving literally a half dozen of 'exact same time' big problems that need to be solved now even though you are busier than ever, I remember how I do so, over the years, developed a process, many times subconscious, of working my way through big problems.

1, you have to believe you have the talent to solve them.  2, you have to give yourself the time to digest and acknowledge the true impact of the issue, 3, you have to accurately measure the damage, delay of the issue even if solved quickly, 4, you have to prioritize accurately, 5, you have to communicate to those impacted if required, 6, you have to solve.

It's like an onion inside of an onion inside of an onion.  The collection of issues/problems is one onion, that you have to peel away layer by layer to analyze each respective problem individually.  Then each problem is its own onion which needs to be peeled away and solved, with characteristics and problems unique and individual.  And with each small success with confronting a layer, the confidence and momentum builds that the individual issue can be solved, and leads to the confidence and momentum that the collection of issues can solved.

It's take time, which has to be found, since it's not typically laying around unused.  It takes energy, which is tough since a lot of us are running at full capacity (especially during the pandemic), it takes creativity, which is difficult to summon out of thin air unexpectedly, and it takes risk-tolerance, since the outcome of many proposed solutions are not immediately clear if correct.

Basically, when shit hits the fan, are your instincts and prior lessons learned on point or not?  It's the difference between success and failure, delay and progress, redemptive chaos or ship-sinking rocky shore.

Personally, we've used the peripheral chaos that engulfed us over the last 6 weeks to reinvent several aspects of the business, and most rewardingly, found a few employees who either stepped up and flexed skills we did not know they had, or inserted into our company new persons, contractors, etc... who have turned out to be good folks to know.

All the while not missing a step of home production, and future home planning. 

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