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Do You Design Problems Away, or Do You Manage Them?

I had a great catch up with a colleague yesterday and we were reminiscing about past projects when we, as Engineers at the time, would struggle to get people to realise that designing a problem out of a process is usually better than just managing it.

I spend most of my time nowadays with clients who want to improve their on time delivery performance. Guess what? When I first start working with them they are trying to manage their problems rather than design them out.

In 2015, so far, one of the common problems that I been asked to help with is 're-scheduling'.

Like most other business problems scheduling is a process that can be improved.


The challenge, in the cases I have been involved with, has been to improve the initial scheduling activity so that re-scheduling is minimised.

Despite the Engineer in me wanting to eliminate the need for re-scheduling, the Operations Manager in me realises that this is an inevitability. However, I believe that many business problems are caused by the decisions we make internally to the business rather than some outside force.

So, with that opinion firmly onboard, I have helped a number of businesses improve their scheduling process by making these two changes:

  • Ensuring that all of the 'unknowns' are 'knowns' prior to scheduling (even if it takes slightly longer at the start of the process).
  • Helping the business to understand how their business needs to schedule (effectively building a model of their business' intake) to optimise their resources whilst minimising how much they need to reschedule.
If you are facing on time delivery problems as a result of the business chasing an ever moving schedule then it might be worth pondering on the two above statements.

Remember, many of the problems we are trying to manage are caused by our own organisation / rules and can be designed out if we put our minds to it.




Giles Johnston
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering



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