March Vinyl Acquisitions

I actually made it a month without buying any records!  Of course, I was recovering from illness and working through the 2,000 records I bought in January, plus it was the shortest month of the year, and I had a couple business trips (photos from one coming soon!), but the fact remains I didn’t buy any vinyl in February.  I had worked down the January acquisitions to less than 100 records to process, which included clearing one of my two shelves of about 150 records that were “in queue” to be listened to as well.  So overall, a good month for working through my acquisitions, and I felt like I had reclaimed much of my available space in the man cave.

I made up for it in the last 8 days, buying about 825 records, of which about 75 are “junk”. Of the 750 I like, about 475 are mostly Motown and soul, and the other 275 are classic rock.  They’re currently sitting in 9 crates and boxes, so all of that available space I created in February is about gone.

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9 boxes of vinyl remaining after sorting out the “junk”…

The group of classic rock is fairly spectacular in my opinion.    It came after the Motown collection, and Mrs. Outspoken’s response after I received the call about the collection was “Really?   You have all these albums yet to clean and listen to, and you’re buying more?!?!”

Yep.  I gotta buy when the opportunity arises.  I went 7 weeks or so with nothing, so buying 2 collections in a little over a week might seem a little over the top, but both were great deals at under $1 per album.

So what makes the collection of rock so great?  How about 4 Zeppelin, 4 Pink Floyd, 4 David Bowie, 4 Allman Brothers, 3 Beatles, and 20 Bob Dylan for starters?    Other artists with multiple albums include Van Morrison, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Steeley Dan, Springsteen, Foreigner, Rush, Yes, Kansas, CCR, ELP, Grand Funk, Heart, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, the Cars, and Aerosmith.  It’s basically a compendium of 70’s and 80’s radio rock music, including some of the softer folk-ish tunes, with none of the pop-disco stuff.

Then there’s some oddball stuff too – stuff I just don’t see. The Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Hackett, Kate Bush, Patti Smith,  Nektar, and some Christian praise stuff by 2nd Book of Acts and Phil Keaggy.  Honestly, I could probably enjoy listening to about 80% of this collection, and if it comprised my entire collection, it would represent probably 60% of what I’d want to have.  Basically, the guy who assembled this collection and I had similar tastes.  🙂

One of my favorite finds so far has been an album from The Monroes.  It’s an EP, only 5 songs, and it was their only album.  I really enjoy it.  Definitely and 80’s sound, but 80’s guitar, not the electronic stuff.

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It was missing a lot of Beatles (but hey, it has Abbey Road), Hendrix, and some of the psychedelic stuff I like, but overall, it’s a great collection in my opinion.   I’m sure I’ll find enough titles to cover my costs, but I think I’ll be keeping a much higher percentage of this collection than normal.

Both of these collections came through my previous contacts; the albums are finding me at times!  It’s also part of why i got the deal I did on them.  I’ve treated the sellers fairly, and they’re active collectors, so I was in a way helping each of them move a large quantity of records quickly.    I also agree to buy them all, and don’t get into cherry picking the collection  or nit-picking on the condition of certain albums.

The way you treat people is important in life and business.  Over the course of my career, I’ve always been focused on process improvement; how to find ways to do “it” better.  It hasn’t really mattered what “it” is, as the basic problem solving methodology of Lean works anywhere (at least I’ve yet to find an application where it doesn’t).  While some people call me an efficiency expert, I look at it more as improving the overall performance of the teams and systems of an organization.    We change the system to change the result, and coach the people through the systemic changes.  But it’s about more than results; for the changes to stick, it’s also about behaviors.

As we change the behaviors and systems to produce different results, we start changing beliefs within the organization.  What happens when the shared beliefs of an organization change?  One, we change the future of that organization.  Two, we have created a culture change.

How’s all this tie into me buying arguably too much vinyl?  Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first.  But for one, I buy with no fear of spending too much, because I have a several year track record of all my hobbies actually producing money.  I have the tax returns to prove it.  🙂 Plus, I’m spending cash that has come from the hobbies.

Therefore, I believe, as does Mrs. Outspoken – even if not as completely as me – that I’m not being irresponsible or delaying our objectives, because in the end I actually contribute towards those shared  objectives from my hobbies.   And I believe I’ve done so buy dealing appropriately with others, and the evidence of that is the number of opportunities that tend to find me.

Second, since there was so much David Bowie in the one collection, would be this album:

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A line from the song Changes is perhaps the foundation of the best inspiration I can think to provide today:

“These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

No matter what it is you’re trying to do or achieve, there are often people who will try to hold you back, make you feel like it’s too hard, not worth it, or even impossible.  Don’t listen to them.  Act responsibly and with intention, treat people with dignity and respect,  but be courageous at the same time.   You can’t do what everyone else thinks you should do and still achieve the greatness that is within you.

Great things aren’t done by being average.

 

 

Are you Solving the Wrong Problems?

There are many ways to solve a problem - photo from Tokyo, Japan, 2011
There are many ways to solve a problem – Tokyo, Japan, 2011

I took the above photo after arriving by boat to this location in Tokyo.  Without counting the car or subway, I can see four modes of transportation to choose from in addition to the one was I was already using.  A rickshaw (which I now wish I would have taken), the bus, a bicycle, or good old walking.  Most likely, I could catch a cab  or find a subway station nearby, too.  So I have 6 fairly obvious options, most of which are likely to work, maybe at different speeds and different costs, but all will get the job done.

Sometimes this is where companies struggle to take the next step.  They have the way they currently do something, and they have 4 or 6 ideas on how they might make a change and move forward.  But they get stuck on trying to find the perfect solution and don’t do anything as a result.   In our above example, maybe they worry walking will make them too tired; that the rickshaw is too expensive; the bus is too dirty.  Maybe they wonder if they can find a subway station or cab in this part of town.

All might be valid concerns, but one thing is clear – we can’t stay on the boat that brought us to here if we want to get where we’re going!  Why?  Because it travels on the river and the temple we want to go to is almost a mile inland.   We need to do something – we need to make a decision – if we’re going to leave our current position.

Other companies struggle because of what they can’t do as an improvement.  Staying with our Tokyo transportation issue, maybe they wanted to take one of those Segway machines; maybe they hoped for a sightseeing bus.  Perhaps air travel by helicopter or hot air balloon was the dream so they could really see the landscape of the city.  But none of those are options.  Some companies will again do nothing because what they hoped could be done isn’t possible.

These are the scenarios that cause me great frustration and pain in business.  An organization has an idea for a change, does most of the work, and then doesn’t implement it, or even try it!  Often, as I’m asked to help find ways to improve, the old idea is brought up.  After 20 years, I am always surprised when it happens.  Often, I’m at a loss for words and I always need to vent to a confidant afterwards.

Perhaps it’s fear of failure.  Maybe it’s fear of missing out on a better idea.  It could be just pure lack of confidence or leadership that doesn’t want to do their job by addressing change management.  Whatever it is, it can kill a company.  Doing all the work for no payoff costs the company real money but it also erodes employee morale, and it’s this loss of equity in Human Capital that causes me the pain.

When it comes down to it, do I really care if the solution works or not?  Once it’s fully developed and ready for implementation?  Well, yeah, I do; but it’s more important for the team to try their solution.  If it doesn’t work, we get back on our old boat and go back where we came from and try again.  But almost always, it will be better.   Maybe not perfect, but better than before.

Which reminds me of an old proverb:

Don’t let perfect stand in the way of good.

I understand that originally Voltaire wrote that “perfect is the enemy of good”.  In the effort to make improvements, perfect can be the enemy for a couple reasons.  The first is the scenario above of creating inaction.  But that is compounded when the inaction is in a critical area of the business.  Best case, it leads to spending finite resources solving a problem that has already been solved. When that becomes clear, it’s frustrating to all involved – but hopefully easier to move forward quickly.

Worst case, it leads to market erosion, loss of profits, and eventual loss of the business – all things which will try to be solved (usually from a financial perspective with unfavorable consequences) when they are really just the effects of inaction.   So once again the company is solving the wrong problem.

Don’t solve the wrong problems in your business or your life.  If you have an idea for improvement try it!     Even better, empower your employees to try their ideas!  Crazy, I know.  Don’t make it too complex.  Use PDCA, understand the effects of the change, and add to your  and the organization’s knowledge.  Make continual, incremental improvements.  Be happy with small, quick wins, and eventually you will start seeing the big wins that lead to true transformational change.