Skip to main content

Manage Only One List Where Possible

Something that I have seen a lot of over the last three months is people trying to juggle numerous lists:

  • To do lists.
  • Action lists.
  • Continuous Improvement lists.
  • Project lists.
  • Issues lists.


...split down by months and / or by working areas in the business.

Most of these lists are held in spreadsheet format (such as Excel) and it begs the following question:

Can you gain more benefit by consolidating the lists and simplifying the management of this one list?

I like lists, but I also recognise the problems that arise when you have too many of them floating around.

If you suffer from having too many lists, and aren't making progress with your actions, then it might be worth considering pulling all of the lists together to create a 'mega list'.

It may look a little daunting having one big list, but by creating some proper categories (i.e. an extra column with a limited number of options entered) and using the 'autofilter' option (usually found in Excel on the home tab 'ribbon' under Editing -> Sort & Filter -> Filter, or see this page from Microsoft).

By doing this, and perhaps being a little creative in terms of using your filters, you can turn your big list into a small, manageable, working list. This small list can then give you the focus to use your time well and make significant progress.

If you have too many 'things' to juggle, and numerous lists floating around your business (or worse, your head!) then it might be time to consider creating a big spreadsheet and learning to create proper categories and use the autofilter option.

Let me know how you get on.


Giles Johnston
...fixing MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

Popular posts from this blog

Where there is a (performance) gap there is a concern

I had a really good day yesterday working with a client's team.

The team has issues. Plenty of issues. Some are managerial issues, some are people issues and some are production issues.

When I first met the team they didn't know what to do with their issues, so I started by helping them to see more issues.

Issues everywhere, they didn't seem very impressed.

And then we captured the issues as 'concerns' into the tried and tested 'concern cause countermeasure' format and followed the process:

Concerns probed for root causes and root causes converted into countermeasures.
Soon they realised that some of their root causes dealt with numerous concerns and they gained momentum.

Yesterday we pulled another one of their processes apart and identified all of the gaps. The gaps became concerns and we fed them back into the process. Now they have a practical action plan (of countermeasures) to upgrade the process in question.

What do you do with your performance gaps? …

Continuous Improvement and the Five Legged Race

Many improvement projects need the buy in of several people before they can progress. Amongst these people there will be some that have a firm view of what needs to happen and are keen to make progress. Some of the people won't be sure and they will need more time. Other people might not be that interested and have other priorities they want to focus on.

None of this is wrong.

It is an observation of mine and one that I see repeat on a regular basis with the businesses that I come into contact with.

But, if we take the principle from the observation we have an interesting improvement strategy (one that I personally use when I get stuck with my client's improvement projects).

You might have worked out the approach from the title of this blog post, but it is analogous to a three-legged race (or four, five, nine...). If someone in the group moves in the wrong direction and / or at the wrong speed then the whole group falls over.


In the example I gave at the start it is no differe…

Do you have time to prepare (in order to become super productive)?

I had a funny conversation a few weeks ago with a team that was complaining about one of their colleagues spending 'ages' preparing their workstation within their factory. I meet a lot of people that spend too long preparing (and effectively procrastinating) so I was intrigued by their comment. It turns out that this individual didn't spend too long but rather his colleagues dived into their work without thinking through what the best way to work was...

The slower to start gentleman did in fact prepare his work area. He was also able to produce a far greater amount of work in the same time period because he had invested in a smarter way of working than his counterparts. The time spent preparing his working area was valuable and not overdone.

This example reminds us of the importance of the second S in 5S (set in order) and how workstation design is critical if we want to maximise the productivity of our teams. Whether this is a physical work area in a factory, the filing s…