Friday, June 24, 2016

Finding your change barrier

Brodie Krause,
IT Manager
As a teenager, I worked a few summers as a laborer for my dad who was a journeyman plumber/pipefitter. During that time, I learned to install water lines by using solder to sweat the joints together. Fast forward 20 years, and I find myself in the midst of a bathroom remodel. Unfortunately, Dad passed away 7 years ago, and so instead of being able to lean on his knowledge, I could only dig back to the memories of what he taught me. This meant breaking out the blow torch, flux and solder, and spending a ridiculous amount of time-fighting to keep the water out of the lines long enough to make leak-free joints. After burning an entire weekend on the project, and still not being able to turn the water on, I decided to step back and think through what I was doing, and if it was truly the most efficient use of my time. I began to research alternate methods of installing water lines, and my mind was blown at what I found. Pre-soldered fittings, compression fittings, and the Holy Grail, QuickConnect fittings that required no solder, and no tools. I woke up the next morning as soon as the hardware store opened, purchased a couple fittings, and within 5 minutes, the house had water again. My weekend had truly been wasted.

It left me asking, “Why?” As I thought through the answers to that question, I began to identify the barriers that had existed in my mind. Barriers that prevented me from embracing the changes that could have made this project so much more manageable.

First, there was a tradition. I had been taught by my dad, who was a master of his craft, that when you’re installing water lines, you do it with a torch and solder. It was so ingrained, that at the beginning of this project, I never even considered that there might be other methods available, and even once I was open to the idea, I felt like I was dishonoring his memory by thinking that his way wasn’t good enough. But I realized I was honoring him by keeping the Krause family tradition of plumbing alive, even if it looked a little different than when he did it.

Second, I was held back by the illusion of cost. As I began looking at those other options, I balked at what I initially considered to be ridiculous costs for those other types of fittings. The way I’d always done it cost a fraction of what these new methods cost, at least, at the retail counter. When I began to consider the additional cost of my time, which had literally consumed an entire weekend, plus the cost of parts that got damaged when fatigue and frustration led me to make mistakes. Suddenly, those new QuickConnect fittings seemed like a bargain!

Finally, there was the barrier of thinking “That’ll never work.” Surely, it couldn’t be that easy, I told myself. But as I did the research and saw self-proclaimed “old-school” plumbers recommend the new methods, I realized it was worth trying. And, I wasn’t disappointed.

We face the same dilemma in the business world. What practices do you have in place simply because that’s the way you were taught, the way you’ve always done it, or a misunderstanding of what it means to honor your heritage? How afraid are you of investing in a new system, simply because of sticker shock? Do you have a realistic grip on your doubts, or do they control you and prevent you from moving forward?

Something I’ve been taught in the past few years is that if you aren’t moving forward, you’re falling behind, even if it feels safer to just stand still. As you face the need for change in your business, take a step back and identify the things that hold you back, you just might find those mountains to actually be molehills.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

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