I really don’t enjoy digging into the minute details of a situation, especially when the data is mundane, technical, or complex.
So you might be surprised when I tell you that I’ve been absorbed in analyzing the long list of ingredients found on dozens of dog food bags. (It certainly surprised me.) I mean, half the words you can’t even pronounce and haven’t a clue what they really are. Like pyridoxine hydrochloride which is apparently vitamin B6. And I learned that corn gluten meal is not something you want in your dog food.
My real preference would be for someone to tell me what dog food would be the best for Grace. I’d much rather spend my time walking it the woods with her as opposed to trying to figure out the gory details of how her digestive system is reacting to levels of protein, grains, and fat.
Yet I willingly spent most of Sunday reading a book that had more information than I ever thought I’d want to know about dog nutrition, including the ins and outs of commercial dog food manufacturing processes, the benefits of homemade diets, and raw and cooked foods—and lots more.
This came about because we’re having trouble transitioning Grace’s food. You may recall a previous post where I talked about taking Grace to a chiropractor. One of the recommendations was to change Grace’s food as the one I had been feeding her had lots of fillers and not as much nutritional value as it could. She gave me a few resources to educate myself on the health impact of the foods she eats.
That was a few months ago, and at the time I scanned the website enough to see there was a wealth of data. I didn’t really take the time to examine all the information. Instead, I found an excellent local source for quality dog food and began exploring a few options with this retailer. The woman at the store was so knowledgeable and exceptionally helpful and I was grateful for her involvement.
After the last appointment with Donna, she felt it was time to switch her food. So over the past month, we’ve unsuccessfully tried two types of high-quality food and Grace’s digestive system has not been happy. I’ll spare you what that looked like, but suffice to say that it was obvious the foods were not reacting well with her body.
We went back to her old food to give her system a break before trying a new one and that night she had a mild seizure. So now, my curiosity and interest had reached a peak. This month-long effort of finding a healthier food was creating havoc for her and I didn’t know why.
What is it about these new foods that aren’t working? Is it a particular ingredient? Or a combination of ingredients? Was there any correlation between going back to the old food and her seizure? All these questions were swirling in my head and the best way for me to answer them was to learn more. It might be easier to hand over this problem to a vet, but I know Grace best and armed with knowledge, I might have a better chance of solving this.
It became clear to me that I would have to understand more about the dog foods and more about a dog’s system in order to figure it out. And since this type of research isn’t something I gravitate to, it took all these events to move me forward. After what I’ve been learning, it certainly makes me wonder what her health would be like if I had known all this a long time ago.
I’m reminded of what I’ve read about Steve Job’s approach to product innovation. Clearly he had a visionary mind and an artistic view of how Apple products should look and function. But he didn’t stay at the big picture level, though, to ensure his vision was implemented. It’s been documented that programmers would walk away from a conversation with him, shocked at how much he understood about their work. Because of this, he was able to know if he could push for something that others said was impossible.
Some managers look at digging into the details as micro-managing. But if you don’t understand the information, you miss out knowing what to manage. I have frequently seen when managers make assumptions about a situation without having all the data. That leads to problematic decisions.
This is true for leadership at all levels. In fact, the higher in the organization, the more this is a problem. It starts with a Board of Directors, who are often talented and respected contributors, but may not have direct knowledge of the industry for the organization they serve. They operate on trust of the leadership, without gaining enough direct exposure to the issues to make informed decisions.
As you move to the organization’s leadership, including the CEO/owner and the executive leadership team, they often skim over details, many of which hold the secrets to best outcomes.
Yes, there is a point when employees can manage details without your oversight. When you cross that line, micro-managing becomes a bad thing. I’m talking about understanding the situation to the point where you aren’t operating blindly.
Get involved. Learn more. You will make better decisions.
You never know what you’ll find out. And you might be surprised at how enjoyable the journey is. I’m looking forward to getting back to my exploration about dog food.