Are We Settling For Just Okay?

My wife, Alyssa, and I live on a horse farm in Williston, FL with her three children (Mine have flown the coop already).  We have 21 horses on the farm, only five of which are ours and, of those, three of them are “retired pasture ornaments”.  In addition to running her own business, Alyssa manages the barn and works the farm with her father, continuously improving the morale of the boarders, refining the “pasture turn-out” processes based upon the time of year and the health of the horses, and improving the facilities (See?  People, Processes and Tools.  You can’t get away from it). 

Managing the farm and raising kids made it difficult to continue riding and showing horses. As a young girl she was the World Champion.  Her passion for riding is strong but her responsibilities have kept her from pursuing that passion.  But we recently added a couple of new horses to the barn:  A yearling buckskin, Justin, and a 16-year-old bay mare named Lacy.  We planned to use Justin as a good lesson horse for the people Alyssa trains weekly. We bought Lacy with a plan to show her in a year or two but she has “adopted” Alyssa’s 12 year old daughter, which means we have been going to horse shows since the beginning of last summer. 

Late last year we started working on our horse trailer to get it ready for shows (living quarters gutted, remodeled, etc.) so we could be more comfortable during extended weekend trips away.  Wouldn’t you know it, just as we finished upgrading this trailer, a newer, bigger and better one became available to us at a price we couldn’t refuse.  We bought it and sold the other one within a few days (These things sell like hot cakes on a cold morning).  Now we were definitely ready for the horseshow circuit! 

For the most part, things were great with the trailer.  We had noticed that the refrigerator had stopped working one day and, try as we may, we couldn’t get it to work.  As we all so often do, we just accepted our current plight and “did without” by using a cooler with ice, etc. hoping we would be able to address the problem in the future.  But for now, the show must go on! 

Everything had been going well over the summer and fall…until last weekend.  After getting the horses into the stalls at the horse park and having dinner, we returned to a rather cold trailer.  I stepped in, adjusted the thermostat to heat and…”click, click, click, click”.  Nothing.  I checked everything that night, but just couldn’t get it to work.  Uh oh.  We’d never been in THIS trailer in cool weather.  Never tested the heat.  Without an understanding of what the problem was, once again, we “did without” and hunkered down in thick clothes for the night. 

In the morning, I had recollection of that same clicking sound in the night and thought “Is the system trying to start a pilot light?”  Our trailer is equipped with both electric hookups and propane tanks.  The heat should work on electric.  I never thought about checking whether it would function on propane.  Went outside, turned the gas on and returned to the trailer to check my luck.  Success!   Oh, and as an added bonus, the refrigerator was now working as well.  Who knew!?!? 

While the family heralded me as a genius for figuring this all out, I couldn’t help but think: “People, Process & Tools.”  How many of us find ourselves simply making do with what we “know” for now, kicking the can down the road before ultimately finding the right person to enlighten us or the right process to follow to ensure all avenues are travelled to ensure success?  Had I taken the time to learn more about the trailer’s heating setup prior to our departure OR if I had engaged in the process of putting the heating system through a test, my heroism would have been unnecessary and the family would have been nice and toasty for the night.  So, unless I’m trying to be a family hero again…lesson learned.  Put the effort in up front to maximize returns on investment. 

How’s your team setup with OPIE’s software?  Do they have the proper training to understand the processes they should be following to ensure maximum returns are realized?