“On Chopping Wood”; A Parable …

“Now stop, I say STOP it boy! You’re doin’ a lotta choppin’ but no chips are flyin’!”

~Foghorn Leghorn

Once upon a time there was a huge pile of wood, the result of a strong wind bringing down two trees, side by side. The home owner had the trees cut into lengths the size of his fireplace grate, and hired two fire wood choppers to chop the lengths into firewood.

The first chopper was strong, very strong. Chopper 1 kept their equipment outside, right beside their house. It was convenient, and they could get to it quickly. It was old and weathered, but was used for many years, getting the results the chopper expected.

The second chopper was small in stature, a planner of sorts. Chopper 2 kept their tools in a tool shed, and once per week they went to the shed to care for the tools. They were all hung in their own space, and getting them in and out of the shed was truly work. Some were new tools, but even the old looked like new.

Both choppers had their assignments, their charter was clear, cut their tree into firewood that would burn easily in the home owner’s fireplace.

The first went right to work, addressing each length right where it laid, turn it on end and started chopping. Length after length, turned over and with great strength, chopped away. A stack of firewood came in time; just as they had done time after time; but often their ax bounced back with even cutting the length. Yes, there was some wasted chops, some ineffective effort, but the stack was building up little by little.

The second asked to meet with the home owner, inside, right at the fireplace. They asked a lot of questions, almost upsetting the home owner with their inquiry. After the meeting, the second chopper went to the work site. They took the largest length and made it a chopping block, they chopped every other length on that block, a great foundation that made every chop be absorbed by the wood, not the ground. Every chop cut wood, no bounce backs; the stack was building as planned. No waste, no lost effort, just progress.

Soon the second chopper collected their pay and took their tools back, cleaned them, sharpened them, replaced any that weren’t as effective as they could be, and even looked into acquiring and implementing new technology for the next opportunity. The first chopper continued their project, and eventually collected their pay; took their tools home and placed them right beside the house where they’d be convenient for the next job.

Two days later, the home owners neighbor noticed that their neighbor’s trees were now fire wood. The neighbor asked for a recommendation on how they could get their downed trees chopped into fire wood as well. It didn’t take the homeowner long to make their recommendation. They actually didn’t care about the extra time the first chopper had taken, or the mixed size fire logs that would burn, but not well. Their recommendation wasn’t about the wood they received, it was about how they got it, what they’d learned in the exchange, and how they’d be ready for the next downed tree. The recommendation was about the experience their neighbor would have and the fact that they’d be getting great value from it. Their recommendation was about protecting their image with the neighbor, the operation excellence they’d witness, and the financial value of the deal.

Photo of a hiker in the woods standing around fallen trees
Photo credit: Chris Rood
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The Evolution of Work: From Ax to Power Splitters

The timeless act of chopping wood, a metaphor for productive work, evolves into a parable of efficiency and continuous improvement. In the traditional ax era, woodcutters honed manual skills and embraced the delicate balance of precision and safety. The transition to power splitters marked a paradigm shift, necessitating a blend of traditional mastery and technological understanding. Safety considerations became paramount, and processes evolved to optimize the capabilities of the modern era.

This transformation illustrates the essence of continuous improvement—adapting skills, prioritizing safety, and optimizing processes. The woodcutter’s journey, from the ax to power splitters, mirrors the ever-evolving nature of work. Embracing advancements not only redefines the landscape but also ensures that professionals navigate change with a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.

Traditional Foundation: The Ax Era

In the traditional ax era, the woodcutter’s foundation rested on manual skills, physical strength, and an intimate understanding of wood. The chopping block and the sharpness of the ax were paramount. The woodcutter’s proficiency was measured by the ability to wield the ax with precision, transforming logs into usable firewood. However, this era demanded strenuous effort, increased physical exertion, and heightened safety concerns.

Maintaining a sharp ax was not only about efficiency but also safety. A dull ax increased the risk of accidents and made the task more arduous. The woodcutter had to balance skill development with the careful handling of tools, ensuring a delicate dance between efficiency and safety.

Transitionto Power Splitters: Redefining one’s Tools

The landscape of wood chopping changed with the advent of power splitters. These technological marvels replaced the traditional ax, reducing the physical demand on the woodcutter. The transition required a shift in skills—from manual precision to the mastery of power tools. The foundation of knowledge expanded to include understanding the mechanics of power splitters and their optimal usage.

Technology changes Environments:Safety and Care in the Modern Era

While power splitters brought unprecedented efficiency, they also introduced new safety considerations. The woodcutter now needed to be well-versed in the safe operation of machinery, necessitating a blend of traditional skills with modern technological understanding. Safety protocols became integral, emphasizing the importance of protective gear, proper usage, and maintenance of power splitters.

Streamlining Processes with Technology

The introduction of power splitters streamlined the chopping process, significantly reducing the time and effort required. Woodcutters could now handle larger volumes with less physical strain. Processes evolved to incorporate the capabilities of the technology, emphasizing efficient log placement, optimized splitting techniques, and systematic handling of the machinery.

Embracing Continuous Improvement

The transition from ax to power splitters exemplifies the essence of continuous improvement. Woodcutters had to adapt their skills, incorporate new safety practices, and optimize processes to harness the full potential of the technology. Continuous improvement became not just a mindset but a necessity for staying relevant and maximizing the benefits of the modern era.

Navigating Change for Excellence with ComAssist

In the parable of wood chopping, the evolution from ax to power splitters highlights the transformative power of embracing advancements. It underscores the importance of adapting skills, prioritizing safety, and optimizing processes in the face of technological progress. By navigating change with a commitment to continuous improvement, woodcutters—and professionals alike—can not only achieve remarkable results but also redefine the landscape of their work for generations to come. Are you navigating change as well as you’d like to be? If no, read on.

The journey from the ax to power splitters serves as a testament to the ever-evolving nature of work. As we reflect on this transformation, it’s crucial to acknowledge the role of innovative solutions in propelling us toward excellence. Are you finding the right level of innovation, and having the fun you deserve in implementing it? If not, read on.

Just as the woodcutter embraced power splitters for increased efficiency, ComAssist empowers individuals and businesses to move up the scale of productivity and results. We specialize in helping you discover new ways to “improve the results of your chopping.” Whether you’re seeking cutting-edge tools, refining your skill set, or optimizing processes, ComAssist is your partner in navigating the ever-changing landscape of work. Would you entertain a very brief discussion on your condition? If yes, contact us at , or by calling us at 423 312-3439.

We invite you to explore the possibilities of elevating your productivity and achieving remarkable results. Our first discussions are always free and “discovery” oriented. We promise no more than 20 minutes of your time the first time we speak, unless you choose otherwise. Larry Nitardy, Wilder, KY


Larry Nitardy

I feel confident in our ability to help you because of what we’ve experienced, how we’ve learned from it, and what we did to adjust, advance and succeed.  

Chris Rood

Original photography and graphics design courtesy of Chris Rood. If you would like to learn more about Chris and his offerings, please visit his LinkedIn profile.

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