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Planning, preparation are indispensible management tools

Tuesday, February 27, 2007, marked three weeks since my knee replacement surgery. I had worried myself into believing the ordeal of surgery and recovery would be much worse than it actually was. Three weeks and I’m running at about half speed. Amazing!

One of our readers, Dr. John Bower, sent me letter suggesting that I keep up with the cost of my surgical experience and compare it to the costs of having knees replaced in some foreign countries. He quotes a recent Associated Press article that indicates that knee replacement can be done in India, Thailand or Singapore at a greatly reduced cost. I think I will run the comparison in this column, as he suggests, when the total cost is known. At this point, I’ve crossed $50,000 with several precincts not yet reporting.

I was vaguely aware of these potential cost savings long before I committed to surgery here in the U.S. I knew, however, that I wasn’t personally interested in flying to the Far East to have my knees replaced. Our healthcare system here in the U.S. is very expensive but I believe it to be the best there is in the world. And, though I don’t hesitate to buy a used car or boat, in this one highly personal choice I wanted to avail myself of the services of people I knew and trusted.

Moving to another subject. Last week my mother passed away. She was 93 years old, actually within a week of her 94th birthday. I was momma’s baby and was committed to arranging her funeral and seeing the process through to conclusion without regard to my physical condition. I fulfilled that commitment though my hobbling was not as graceful as I would have liked.

I knew that my parents had made their funeral arrangements years ago. So, I was not surprised that there was little work or cost in arranging momma’s funeral. I was reminded what a tremendous gift it is to the family when one plans their own funeral. Times of grief are just that, times when we want to reflect and begin the process of grieving and accepting the situation. It is not a good time to be making the myriad choices that are required for a funeral and burial.

On a related note, the company ran like a fine tuned Swiss watch during my absence for surgery and recovery. I have long prided myself on empowering our employees with the authority necessary to carry out their responsibilities without my micro-managing the details. I know that empowerment is hard for some managers who feel threatened by their employees taking independent action. Admittedly there is a measure of risk with empowering employees; however, that is my style and it has worked very well for me.

Here’s my point in citing my mother’s funeral arrangements and employee empowerment: emergencies and unexpected situations are going to happen to all of us and we’ll either be prepared or we won’t. My experience with surgery and a death in the family confirms my belief that planning and preparation for the unknown are essential for good management. I would go so far as to say even a lousy plan beats no plan at all.

Thought for the Moment

On behalf of my family, I want to take this opportunity to thank all our friends for the outpouring of support and condolence during this difficult time in our lives. I am reminded, once again, that having a solid Spiritual foundation and personal relationships with people are the most important aspects of life.

Joe D. Jones, CPA (retired), is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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