Thursday, July 14, 2005
Finding God (or is that Dog) in the DetailsManaging the adoption center in Oakland can sometimes feel like High School Physics. I really struggled with Physics in school. So many different formulas and variables to remember. Even more difficult was trying to remember exactly which formulas to use in solving which problems.
Somehow, I never figured that Physics would be important in my adult life but tonight I had an epiphany! Our busy adoption center is like a Physics lab.
Each day presents us with problems: dirty cages, hungry animals, ringing phones, appointments to make, clients needing referrals, clients ready to adopt, new animals to process, animals needing meds, animals to be evaluated, and the list goes on.
Each of these problems could be approached from a variety of angles. The variables can be manipulated any number of ways. Imagine the anarchy of each staff person or "physicist," if you will, deciding to work with the variables of, say, cage cleaning (newspaper, litter, litterpan, food dish, newspaper, water dish, food, water, bleach spray, paper towels, bedding, and the cat) each in their own way. Who knows which formula would solve the problem of a clean, sanitary cage?
Thankfully, our laboratory management team has put together a set of agreed upon formulae. They are the processes that we teach each employee and volunteer so that, as much as possible, we run a consistently smooth program. This allows for the needs of the animals and the programs to be met, and more importantly, for us to replicate among new staff and volunteers.
It is within the framework of the routine formulas each day that the organization finds a stability that then allows for immense creativity. We aren't reinventing the wheel everyday regarding the basic things. Instead, we can dream of new programs, offerings, and outreach. The animals who need us depend on this.
Tomorrow, I will open the shelter, hang the daily schedule of routine tasks, and smile a little knowing our routine tasks will lead to some anything-but-routine accomplishments.