Saturday, April 25, 2009

Inaction Items

When I was the Big Kahuna at the company, I used to get a kick out of any meetings I held with the sales team. It was totally predictable that they would all bring a notebook to the meeting and meticulously make notes of whatever it was that we decided to do (which in most cases was really what I decided to do). Action Items, they are called, although I would have become a very wealthy man predicting which Action Items the sales types would act upon. Let's just say that if you took zero in the pool, you'd win lots more than you'd lose.

For most of these folks, it seemed that they took the attitude of "I've taken notes. You don't expect me to actually do something about these things, do you?" I don't know if my note takers were insincere, just taking notes to make me think the things I said were important enough to them that they wanted to remember them for a very long time. Or if they had good intentions to follow through at the time of the meeting, but didn't quite possess the determination to actually do so. Or perhaps they had no intention to follow through but wanted it to look like they did. Of course, it's equally possible they took notes to avoid either A) eye contact or B) falling asleep.

At first it annoyed me, but fairly soon it began to amuse me. And finally I learned to ignore most of them as fully as they were ignoring me. Underlying it all, though, was my belief that this not-following-through stuff was a pretty fundamental personal flaw.

It may very well be a personal defect, but I have to tell you that if it is, I am guilty of it as well. And in spades.

As I continue this now-ridiculous review of the goals I set for myself prior to retiring, I have yet another dismal and failed collection of Action Items to review today. Trust me - if I had bothered to look at the list of goals and realized how poorly I have fared in meeting them, I never would have started this week out so confidently announcing that each day I would make a progress report. Really, trust me. Even I am capable of being embarrassed about this stuff.

On September 16th, I wrote about the white elephants we had, the large number of items that we had used very little, and some times not at all. My goal was to look at five of the pricier ones and either start using them or sell them. I made the decision an Action Item seven months ago, and today I am officially labeling them Inaction Items. Because I haven't done a thing about any of them.

For the record, this is what I wrote then:

1. Item: An espresso and cappuccino machine. Works well. Missing the little piece that tamps down the coffee.

Why keep: It makes really good coffee.
Why sell: Linda doesn't like espresso and I don't like cappuccino.
Decision: Sell. When we bought this for several hundred dollars, we forgot that we don't drink much coffee.

2. Item: A bread maker. Good condition. The loaves it makes are kind of on the small side.

Why keep: The smell of warm bread when you wake in the morning.
Why sell: The South Beach Diet.
Decision: Sell it. To hell with the South Beach Diet. Use the money to get another one that makes bigger loaves.

3. Item: Hands-free telephone car kit.

Why keep: Hands-free driving and talking.
Why sell: Hands-free talking and driving. As Linda will gladly share, I have enough trouble paying attention to traffic as it is.
Decision: Sell it. Since I bought it four years ago, I haven't once wished I had installed it.

4. Items: A man's and a woman's bicycle (the latter with a bell and plastic ribbons in the handles). Ridden a total of 10.5 miles while going to wineries in the Hunter about 10 years ago. Tires need inflating.

Why keep: Exercise is good.
Why sell: Five years ago we sold the car with the bicycle rack attached (used once).
Decision: Keep. If I ever get around to assembling the bike I bought Lily eight months ago, we can go pedaling together.

5. Item: Treadmill. The whole deal with lots of dials and a heart monitor. Barely used (of course)

Why keep: Exercise is good.
Why sell: Detect any trends here?
Decision: Sell. With so much more free time it's easier, cheaper and more interesting to just hoof it outside. Besides, isn't the point of retirement to get off the treadmill?

There's no sense in grading them singly. It's just a big group F.

Oh, and in re-reading this, I should tell you that I also never got around to assembling the bike I bought Lily now 15 months ago. It's still in the box in the garage, and she's outgrown it. I am seriously starting to feel like a salesperson who has filled up a huge notebook,

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