I attended a seminar two weeks ago entitled “Success Factors for a Winning Practice”. It offered architects some perspective on how they can increase their profitability through eliminating project risks, maximizing cash flow, and strengthening client relationships.  I asked the presenter to email me his slide presentation so I could supplement the notes I had hastily scribbled. I wanted to revisit his presentation to find some ideas that would strengthen the business case for my services.

As soon as I opened his slide presentation, I faced my own lack of – I’m not sure what: organization? A system? A Process? Maybe just a primitive sense of having my act together. I knew (vaguely) what I wanted to do, and what I wanted it to look like, but it was unclear how I would get there.

For example, I had no idea what kind of time I should invest in this endeavor. I had no idea how much time I had before I’d be pulled on to something else. I had no idea what I would create from this work. I was primarily interested in being thorough. What caused me the most distress was: I had no place for these materials!
Should I stop what I was doing and get organized, or plow ahead singlemindedly and ignore the chaos which contributed to the uncertainty of achieving my outcome?

Ahhh, Sudoku! You are a blessing and a curse!

Fifteen minutes later, I returned to my current dilemma. Alright, maybe I didn’t have what I think I should have, but the sheer amount of focus it would take to program such a thing from the ground up would be only so useful. Clearly, this was not the time to undertake that.

So instead, I took action on dealing with the smaller issue. The first issue was that I had no waiting receptacle for storing this stuff on my computer filing system. So I created one called “Article Development”. I called it that because I have begun so many articles that have not made it to the blog that the practice is becoming a vice!

So when is the right time to organize? Well, I’ve found that it’s too soon when you don’t have enough information to recognize an actual pattern. When that happens, you risk creating a pattern that doesn’t reflect reality.

It makes the concept of a “Miscellaneous” folder very enticing, but only if you make a habit of sorting through it regularly.

I recently found that it only makes sense to start designing systems when you have an accumulation of similar things that need the same actions. It may take weeks or months for a sufficient number of these to materialize. And once they do, you may find yourself in reactive mode (which is never fun).

The materials will need to be stored somewhere. A set of actions will need to be formulated so that you act without hesitation. But wait a minute! An outcome first has to be identified. What is the end result? What is the product?

What would this product get me? I mean, yeah, right, I’m writing another blog article that someone may stumble upon later, or that I can send out to a mailing list. But who is this for?

The right time to organize is when you recognize the need, have the information, and know what you’ll be doing with it.