Viewing entries tagged


The Right Tools

For 18 months I have been working with a contractor remodeling a large three-season porch and kitchen in our home. We live in our town's old train depot--remodeled and moved to the country--where very little in the original construction conforms to your standard "balloon-frame" modern homes I am used to working on. The challenges encountered in the remodel have been multi-varied and . . . interesting. 

I say "multi-varied and interesting" because our discoveries, and the resulting discussions, go something like this . . . "Remember. the guy who moved the depot was a train engineer, used to working on motors, so he reversed the white and black wires." Did you know that wiring color--one "hot" and one "common"--in motors are the reverse of the colors used in standard house wiring? I didn't.  

Another one was, "What they did here was combine a patio, a small porch and a deck to make this three-season porch floor. Then they shored it up with extra posts." What?  Or another, "The floor boards here are planks instead of finished boards because this was the baggage area." How do you finish a floor with half-inch gaps between the boards? (Answer: You nail in strips of boards and spend $300 on wood putty.) "You see the ceiling here used to go all the way to the roof . . . you can see where they boarded up the windows and put in trusses to create a lower ceiling." Oh, that's why I have to duck under that 5 foot ceiling in the attic!

I mean it when I say "multi varied . . . and interesting!" 

But that doesn't preclude other words . . . frustrating, confusing, even maddening.

Suffice it to say that each change in the remodeling process has resulted in head-scratching and sometimes finding "out-of-the-box" ways to solve each new challenge. Some of these challenges would have stumped my limited ability and knowledge, were I on my own, to find a solution . . . thank goodness for a contractor who has the skills, knowledge, and tools to find a solution. But there is a "down side" . . . I find myself wanting, and buying, many of the tools we've used. Maybe its and "up side?"

One of these tools is a Kreg Jig. Do you know what a Kreg Jig is? Well, that's a "Kreg" as we call it in the picture at the top of the post. A Kreg jig helps you build cabinets, shelves and other projects where having tight, well fitting joints is important. What does it do? It simple helps you get the right angle and depth for your fastener (a screw) so that you have a strong joint. That's it.  A $100 tool to make sure you put your screw at the best angle and don't drill too deep. Now that's a specialty tool. I've been building for years and making do with the "eye-ball-it method" of setting my screws at an angle and drilling carefully. But, the results are not always what I hope for. The Kreg takes all the guess work out of it and produces a superior outcome.

It reminds me of consulting.

Organizational leaders can ask questions, conduct interviews, run focus groups . . . but the results are not the same. Consultants bring an expertise, technique, and the tools of the trade to the task. This enables them to help leaders come out with a better product.  These tools include consulting methods, business knowledge, business experience and a host of other features.  But consultants are more than just "tool providers" they themselves are "tools" leaders use to impact their work teams. As "outsiders" consultants contributions are different than the leaders contributions even if they are doing the same activity! 

As I said earlier, I have built shelves and cabinets which you can do without a "special" tool like the Kreg Jig. After all, the only thing this does is help you put screws in at an angle to make a strong joint. I can do that on my own can't I? The answer is "Yes," however the results speak for themselves.  Leaders do well when they consider, "Do I need a consultant for this job?" And if the answer is "yes," to further consider "which consultant is the right one to use?" In this consideration, the core discipline of the consultant, should be considered as well.  Do I need legal expertise, business knowledge, an understanding of the human dynamics? Focus on the consultant's core expertise as you ask . . . is this the right "tool" for this job?

Here are the cabinets and the plank flooring. . . the right tool is worth the cost!

Cabinets and plank floor. Floor sanding and finishing is pending. The stove?  It's called a "Flair" made by General Motors!

Cabinets and plank floor. Floor sanding and finishing is pending. The stove?  It's called a "Flair" made by General Motors!



One Tool to Rule Them All . . . My favorite tool by far!



"One Tool to Rule Them All, One Tool to find them, one Tool to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."   Someone other than J.R.R. Tolkien

My precioussssss . . .

Ever find something that captivated you like nothing else? Something you could not get off your mind? Something you constantly return to over and over again to find new facets of it's nature and utility?  No, it's not time for a trip to Mt. Doom to rid Middle-Earth of the dangerous ring. It's only an awe-inspiring app called Trello.

Trello is by far my favorite tool. I use it for almost everything I do as an entrepreneur and consultant. Among other things too numerous to mention, I use Trello to: track my business operations, market my business, store and deliver products and services, communicate and provide value to customers, create "tool carts" of resources to be used again and again with new customers . . . and I just keep finding new ways to use this tool.

The best thing about Trello is that it is so flexible and so intuitive.  You can learn to use it in minutes and you can still be finding new ways to use it after more than a year. Oh, another nice feature is it is free for the basic app--which will be all that most users need.

I am so excited about Trello that I have trained my HSC consultants on using it, provided a free web-training, and tout it's use to my customers.  Finally, because others continue to ask, I decided to record a video of my basic training so it can be shared by more people.

Pic by . . . me.  Hobbiton near Matamata, New Zealand

Pic by . . . me.  Hobbiton near Matamata, New Zealand

While Trello itself has really good resources to train you on it's use (and I would recommend using them) they often are very broadly applied--there simply are so many ways to use Trello that it would be impossible to target the training to a specialized interest. Thus you often have to search out applications that help you apply Trello's usefulness to your business needs.

In training consultants, I demonstrate the basic structure of Trello, introduce them to the common features they need to understand, and then show them the many ways we have put this to use working as a consulting firm. We think it will open up new ideas for how consultants can increase your efficiency and make the work easier. If you check it out, just don't get too obsessed with it, you don't want to end up like Frodo.


Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.