Take it Apart and Put it Back Together

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on January 14, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Project Management, Time Management Strategies


My neighbor is an auto enthusiast. I have no interest in a camshaft or fanbelt but when I chat over the fence with my neighbor, I learn all about his truck (a Ford pick-up truck from the 1940’s). He bought the body – just a shell – a couple of years ago and is literally building it from the ground up, sometimes buying parts and sometimes borrowing his friend’s machine shop to build his own. While I’m pretty utilitarian when it comes to vehicles (I just want something nice to get me from A to B), he knows his truck well. When it’s finally running, he won’t have any difficulty diagnosing problems and fixing them.

I’ve recently seen examples of this “build from the ground up” idea happen in my field of business productivity and efficiency. Twice, in fact:

A consultant I know ran a busy practice but wanted to be busier. He told me he was sick of trying different productivity ideas with only success, or not being able to apply some productivity principles to his business because of a pre-existing situation. So he tore his business apart and rebuilt it from the ground up. In a way, he was creating the business he wished he’d created when he first started (except this time he has customers and revenue already in place). I would sometimes get updates from him during this intense “in-the-garage” process.

One example of his work: He outlined his sales process, created very specific goals for each step, listed step-by-step what needed to be done at each stage, and made sure he had all of his information and resources to follow through on each step. In other words, he could go through the sales process himself or he could pretty much get a robot to do that work for him. Every point was measurable and he could rate his success at the end of each day.

That sounds like a great idea, in my opinion. Not only does it ensure that his processes are smooth and efficient, but if he ever does encounter a problem, he’ll be able to easily diagnose the problem and fix it.

What starting getting this “tear-it-down-and-rebuild-it” idea in my mind was actually an article I read about one person’s time management practices. Now, if I ask most people what their time management practices are, they might say “Oh, I use Outlook” or “I have a checklist” or something like that. Just generalities. But in a “Productivity Whitepaper” written by Patrick Rhone, you’ll read about Rhone’s complete productivity recipe. It’s all there in extreme detail. Full disclosure: The whitepaper is loooooooong (which is probably why he called it a whitepaper) but it is well worth the time you take to read it. In fact, as a user of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system, I’ve actually found this article clearer than Allen’s own writing on some GTD processes! Oh, and the whitepaper was written in 2006, which means that there are a couple of dead links in the article but they don’t take away from the essence of the content.

As you read about Rhone’s system, take note of the detail, the clarity of the processes, and how every step is carefully thought through. And then hold up a mirror to your own business. Does it need a tear-down-and-rebuild overhaul?

Happy Building!

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