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Jana Adkins: Training critical in all aspects of taking care of business

General Business

Posted: July 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Our dog ate our sofa.

It was a Broyhill, for those of you who are familiar with furniture manufacturers’ labels.

Last year, our daughter moved out of the family home. Adding insult to injury, she took her Australian Shepherd with her. It was hard deciding who we missed more.

OK, we love our daughter with all our hearts and nothing can ever, ever replace her — but we did miss the dog. 
After sitting home alone for nearly a year, my husband and I decided to do a good deed and rescue an abandoned dog a few months ago.

That’s when we found our border collie Evie.

Adorable and sweet-natured as she is, Evie came with a few problems. For one, she isn’t the 2-year-old dog we were told we were rescuing. She’s more like 15 months — still very much in the puppy stage.

She arrived fairly well-trained; she is house-trained and obeys some basic commands. We work to continue training her on a daily basis, and for the most part, she’s learning quickly.

But she is still a puppy. The world around Evie excites her as she explores and discovers all kinds of nooks and crannies in and out of the house.

One particular obsession of Evie’s is geckos. She rigorously patrols the yard surrounding our house like a special operative on a mission to protect us from the “menacing reptiles.”

Last week, my husband traveled out of town for business, which he does periodically. We were proud of the rescue pup that seemingly practiced such good behavior while remaining home unattended.

But last week, Evie got bored.

I arrived home to find she had destroyed the interior guts of a rather large seat cushion on our Broyhill sofa.
Amazingly, though, this rather bright puppy had figured out how to unzip the tiny zipper on the seat cushion, leaving the fabric perfectly intact.

It was immediately apparent how much she had enjoyed herself based on the debris in the house, but her ears and tail drooped as soon as I uttered the words: “Bad Evie.”

Before I could absorb the shock, my husband called home to ask how Evie handled the day alone.

“Fine,” I said.

I believe in white lies when I’m suffering from shock. There was plenty of time to tell my beloved spouse that Evie had actually entertained herself in a way he wouldn’t find acceptable.

Processes, training
You may think I’m crazy, but our experience with Evie does apply to a business model.

Process management is a system by which the activities in a business are methodically, logically plotted out to achieve the highest productivity without burning out employees — or worse, hiring unnecessarily or losing business and revenue.

Once the processes are in place, there needs to be oversight to ensure the processes are being followed and practiced effectively for the benefit of the business and its employees. 

Managing basically means monitoring the process, adjusting as necessary, establishing controls and reporting metrics and assessing overall performance of the operation.

In short, process management uses standardized work practices to assist in carrying out business activities and continuously improve the outcome of those activities.

Once the processes are in place, employees need to be trained.

If training is not conducted, and improvement monitored until an employee learns to be proficient, a business could suffer by failed productions and missed deadlines affecting customer satisfaction.

All of these negative events might ultimately have a negative effect on business growth or revenue.

Puppies need processes and training, too.

When we brought Evie home, we dog-proofed our home once again, removing known temptations when we are away from the house.

We have done a pretty good job, but now we need to review the process and continuously make improvements in the process; such as identifying additional known temptations.

Doing so might include removing sofa cushions and ensuring she always has something safe to chew on while we are away.

We also need to continue training Evie so that she learns, while still young, what is acceptable practice or behavior, and what is not.

We are monitoring her progress to ensure our training is effective. Training includes rewards for good behavior and learning to obey new commands. 

If Evie succeeds, the payoff will not only be the love and affection she gives us — it will be the preservation of our home and belongings.


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