I’m sure every one of you are putting off tidying some part of your house. Whether it’s the garage, your clothes closet, your work room, or the garden shed. I’m sure there’s some part of the house where you take one look, then walk away, leaving it for another day. In the meantime the thought of all that mess hangs over you, and you’ve always got it nagging at the back of your mind. Then, when you finally get the courage and jump in to sort the junk, it’s often easier than you thought it would be. Sure, there are always some tough decisions, like throwing out those items you remember fondly wearing, but you haven’t worn in ages because they probably don’t fit anymore. You’ll probably find some junk that you’ve been hoarding for years, convinced that it will be some use one day. Some of you who are savvy may even turn some of that unwanted junk into cash by offering it on eBay or Craigslist. Hauling some of the better clothes to the local charity store can be immensely satisfying – cleaning out a room in your house and donating to a good cause is really good for your soul.
The important thing is that as long as the problem remains unsolved, it’s like this dark cloud hanging over us every day. Some of you probably have rooms, cupboards or drawers in your house that you are too scared to even open. But, once the mess is tidied and rid of junk, it’s a tremendous relief and suddenly you are free to open that room, cupboard or drawer. The amazing thing is that once you set your mind to the task of clearing, and you are committed to that task, it usually gets done much quicker than you imagined. Of course, there are some who will make half-hearted attempts to clear the clutter, then give up before long – often leaving more of a mess than before. Those half-hearted attempts waste time and energy, but more importantly they make the problem seem even bigger than it actually is.
Are there unresolved problems on your construction project
So it is with some construction projects – they’re in a mess, and often sinking deeper. Yet, some of us avoid getting stuck in and sorting the project out. We kind of skirt the issues, hoping that miraculously the project is going to sort itself out. Well guess what, just like that junk pile at home isn’t going to sort itself out on its own, your project’s not going to sort itself out without intervention and commitment from you.
Indeed, like some of you who avoid opening some rooms, cupboards or drawers in your home, I’ve known some managers that have avoided visiting their projects that were in trouble because they couldn’t face the problems. Of course this solves nothing.
Certainly, sometimes some projects have multiple problems, when things start going wrong it often snowballs. Where to start? Well, like sorting that room piled with junk you have to start somewhere. More importantly you have to be committed to sorting things out, that means spending time on the project to understand the underlying causes of the problems. You can’t think that a half hour here and there will make much of an impression. Nor should you be tempted to chuck everything into the trash and start from scratch again. You might be throwing useful stuff into the trash. Some bosses fly in yelling at everyone and firing anyone they think is the problem, and often they leave the project in more of a mess than before.
Like that room that’s a mess, start sorting from one end. Trash what is junk. Rearrange what should be kept. Put things in an orderly place. Don’t get distracted. Don’t run away when things get too hard.
Of course, hard decisions sometimes have to be made. Don’t shy away from making them. If someone isn’t performing they need to shape-up or ship-out. But, some people may be better deployed elsewhere, they may be more suited on a different project. Of course, don’t just pass on poor people to another project. It’s kind of like sending your broken shoes to the charity shop, simply passing your problem to someone else who ultimately has to trash the item. Rather look to passing the person on to somewhere they could be better suited, kind of like passing on that jacket that’s perfectly good but doesn’t fit you anymore, to the local charity shop.
Sometimes you have to spend money to fix that problem. Like when you are tidying that room at home you may have to purchase new shelving and racks, maybe even re-configuring your cupboard completely so that everything is easily accessible. So too, when sorting out our projects we sometimes have to bring in additional resources to help out.
Of course, it is always easy to play the blame game. “It’s not my mess”, “It’s a difficult client” and the favorite, “it’s the estimator’s fault”. Well blaming someone doesn’t solve the problem. Deal with the problem, sort it out. Rather apply your mind and energy to solving the problem than wasting time and energy blaming others.
It’s just as easy to find excuses for not sorting out the mess. “I don’t have the time”, is an all too familiar excuse. Or, there’s always the delay tactic, “I’ll have more time next week”. Well, next week will come and go and you still won’t have the time, and the mess will have gotten worse. Make the time now to sort out the problems and mess.
The important thing is don’t wait until your project is in a total mess before you start sorting it out. When a problem arises, find the reason, fix the problem as well as the underlying cause so a similar problem doesn’t occur. Again, kind of like that room at home, maybe the reason things are on the floor is that there’s insufficient storage. So create more storage, then pick the stuff up and pack it neatly.
Prevent problems on your construction project
Better still, don’t let you project get into a mess in the first place. If it’s planned properly from the start, and if everyone approaches the project logically and orderly, then many problems can be avoided. If hard decisions are made as needed, then problems can be avoided. If problems are dealt with when they arise they won’t snowball. Exactly in your own homes, if you have a plan and a place for everything, and stick to that plan, ensuring that everyone else in your house follows that plan, then everything will have its rightful place and should be returned there. When something is broken it either gets fixed immediately or it gets trashed. It’s pointless keeping that jacket that no longer fits in the forlorn hope that one day you’re going to shrink a few sizes and it will fit you again – it probably won’t happen, and if it ever does happen the jacket will be long out of fashion.
Do not wait to solve issues on your construction project
Once a mess has been tidied it’s immensely satisfying, its like a whole weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Suddenly it’s pleasant to enter that room, or visit that project.
So, if your project is in a mess, make the time to sort it out. Have a strategy and a plan. Break the problems into small parts that can be more easily dealt with. Understand the underlying reasons for the mess. Solve them one by one. Don’t let the whole messy situation overwhelm you. Be bold, make the hard decisions when you have to. Salvage what you can salvage. Trash what must be trashed. Create order from the chaos.
Go out today with a mission to resolve those problems, to tidy those messy projects.
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"Go out today with a mission to resolve those problems, to tidy those messy projects."
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