The Right Equipment for the Job

I was almost done mowing the lawn last weekend when the front wheels of the mower fell off. This has happened once before and our mechanic was able to “make a part” to keep the wheels on. I should have considered myself on notice. When the problem occurred again a few days ago I was less surprised than impressed that the DIY solution lasted as long as it did. Slipping the wheels back into place not at all securely I slowly and carefully cut the last section of grass.

After that it was on to the edging and trimming. But the 15-year-old “weed whacker,” seemingly in solidarity with the mower, had had enough. When the “auto-feed” feature stopped working I had to stop every few feet to manually pull out some additional line. It was tedious and frustrating and I wasn’t able to finish the job.

It is a truism of the workplace that an employee’s level of engagement – her willingness to bring her creativity, energy and initiative to bear on her responsibilities – is positively correlated to her access to the right equipment for the job. Common sense, right?

If you are asked to take care of something important and then informed that even though most companies, most of the time would use “those tools” and we only have “these tools” you might find that to be (a) an opportunity for creative problem solving and/or (b) more than a little frustrating.

The challenge of doing your best with what you’ve got – being scrappy and efficient with a  “can-do” attitude – is fun for a while, maybe even a little exhilarating. But it’s not a long-term strategy for success. At some point you’ve got to invest in the right – maybe even the best – resources for the job.

I have always enjoyed doing yard work; the physical effort on a warm summer day and the pride of ownership bring a strong feeling of satisfaction. But that’s when my tools are functioning as they should. When they don’t, well, it’s really no fun at all.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

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