Skip to main content

Starting Messy? Don’t Worry - Just Make Sure You Start!

Planning is central to the success of any continuous improvement project. A good plan, however, is not always terribly visible to those struggling to implement that improvement!
Just knowing how to get from A (problem needing solving) to B (implemented improvement), can make managing change a simpler and more effective endeavour. 

But what can you do when you just don’t know where to start?

When you are trying to coordinate the activities of numerous departments / individuals, to help get any given change made, a plan is absolutely essential. Sure, they can take time to create, but this is time well spent.

“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”
― Brian Tracy (Canadian entrepreneur and author)

I agree with this quote. I have heard many a client complaining about having to take time and put resources into creating a plan. And then wax lyrical when that plan delivers desired results!

Actually, the time taken to develop a plan is usually less than you might think. Of course, larger (and more complex) projects take longer. A good plan will include all the steps required to get from today to the future state you wish to reach. Central to that is clarity: You know who is doing what, when they are doing it, and in what sequence.

But there isn't always time to sit down, do the research and write a plan. Time is pressured, people are pressured, a problem may be just so pressing, immediate and decisive action is needed.

I guess we've all been there!

Need to change but no obvious plan? I have worked with many businesses facing this dilemma. One short answer is Starting Messy. On various occasions, with numerous clients, I have found that by rolling our sleeves up and getting stuck in (a little bit at least), we were able to find most of the pieces of the puzzle.

A plan emerged!

One of my clients found that Starting Messy was an effective route to take. Their ERP improvement project wasn't coming together. Instead of moving forward there was just stagnation. Any plan put forward was incomplete and caused friction within the improvement team. 

When I discussed Starting Messy with the client, they were unsure. The level of intolerable results however made them give it a go. And lo and behold, our improvement plan emerged. We got to work on what needed to be done; the improvements followed.

There is another benefit to be gained from Starting Messy … Your team will be more effective as a result. 

Working your way out of a problem this way can do wonders for team development. The energy, the vibes, the positivity of people having to think quick, work quick, and – crucially – work together quick – can yield tremendous results. 

So there you have it, starting messy  - and finishing trim!

A final thought: How do you rate your business’s performance with regard to good, effective planning? This is a question all managers / decision makers should be asking themselves. And others! And often!



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