Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 Steps to Organize a Disorganization

MessyWarehouse Weekly Rant

I’m sure you can relate to this title, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this entry.  Many organizations’ projects and processes are disorganized.  This is what I see and hear about almost weekly. It’s especially true of small to medium sized companies given they need to do to maximize their company talents and resources by focusing them on areas that generate the most revenue.

However, there will come a time when the disorganization is a hindrance and can no longer be ignored.

Your organization may not be disorganized, but you know of or have worked for or with at least one that’s a complete chaos.  Many a company have all the right tools or technologies, people and even processes, but nothing seems to work well together, or nobody knows where something is.  Everything’s just in piles. In other words, there’s no organization for the tools, how to use them when, or who owns them.

How do you fix this?  What I’m about to prescribe may sound obvious, but it needs to be written: All you need to do is organize it.  Up until tonight I thought it would be ridiculous to try to assert this point, but after seeing a presentation at a local Project Management Institute meeting, I realize disorganization is more common than we care to admit.  If it’s common, that means people don’t realize they are disorganized.

So, I’ve listed below five ways to start organizing a disorganization:

  1. Select Key People: You want to start off with people who are invested in creating organization out of chaos.  The scenario that’ll deliver results requires senior management involvement and buy-in, but you also need one or two people who know the existing tools and processes, or know how to get this information, and are eager to bring them all together.
  2. Gather Information and Processes: You’ll need to gather all existing information about process owners, processes in place and tools used.  This is true even if you think you’ll have to change all of it.  Mind you, you’ll change NOTHING.  You allow the process and asset owners to do that.  Of course, if you’re the owner, then make changes to your heart’s content, but remember that others in your organization will want to contribute too.  Your job, as an organizer, is just to give order to the chaos so that all information, tools and processes are referenced and usable.
  3. Gather Assets: You’ll also need to gather all document templates and project / process samples.  Once again, you wont’ change these, but you’ll need to understand them and where they fit. 
  4. Organize and Centralize: This is a key step.  You want to organize all the information and assets found and place them on a site or file structure.  The idea here is to place all such information in a central location available for anyone to use at any time.  Think of this effort as nothing different than creating a site map for a website, a table of contents and index for a book, or an introduction to a speech.  You want to allow people to know exactly where to go to get information, easily navigate it, and even contact the information or asset owners if need be.
  5. Share and Revise: Announce your results to your organization and ask for their input.  Next to item four above, this is the most important step. By asking for input you’re signaling that this is a work-in-progress and you want each person to own it by contributing to it.  What’s more, you’ve created an avenue to continuously improve your living organizational-style for your company's processes and technologies.  Make sure that once you’ve gathered and vetted the input, you implement it immediately.  In other words, go through the above five steps continuously! 

What Do You Think?

There is more detail for each of these steps and I’ll be happy to converse with you about them.  Feel free to react in the Comments section below and let’s continue the conversation.