Why We Practice the 6 Ps of Business
Today we set the main tie transformer for a substation our company is building in south-central Kansas. For our small 8 person company, this was an event with all hands on deck. We made it to the site at 7 am this morning so we would be ready for the crane that would get there at 9. By the time the crane rolled through the gate, we had the crosshairs that the transformer would ultimately come to rest on top of drawn-out, double-checked, and ready to go. Getting the crane set up for the lift, going over the site plan with the crane crew, and doing our final safety checks took about 3 hours. From the time the transformer lifted off the semi-trailer to the time it was sitting in what will hopefully be its forever home, was just under 20 minutes. Everything went exactly as planned.
One of the first things my father taught me when we started doing projects together, even before I worked for him, was the 6 Ps of business.
Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
If you want a project to go well, then put in more time on the front end. If you have already double-checked it but it has been a while; check it again. If you just checked it and it doesn't feel right. Check it again. If you haven't checked it in a while and you are going to do a site visit tomorrow. CHECK IT AGAIN! Fifteen more minutes of your individual time in the office can save you hours in the field. And time in the field is significantly more expensive. If you are rethinking in the field and other people are waiting on those man-hours add up quickly. Labor is one of the largest expenses on any job so anything that can be done to keep it down is a win from a business prespective. So think in the comfort of your office for a little while longer.
This is not just a good practice for business. Most tasks in life can be made significantly easier if someone was to just plan ahead a little more. Our household is held together by planning. Plans become schedules, schedules become routines, the kids form habits and are happier when regular events happen. It keeps Erin and me on the same page with the kids and from contradicting each other when Gabs tries to play the ask both parents game. A weekly meal plan means only one trip to the grocery store each week which saves us time and money.
The ability to make and keep a plan is probably one of the most valuable skills that my parents ever taught me. It is a balance between knowing what needs to be done and what you are capable of accomplishing. The number one reason I see, both mine and other peoples, plans fail is because of overestimating ability. It is to easy to underestimate a small task and then you are behind schedule. Once you are behind schedule it is easy to try and rush to make up the extra time leading to more small mistakes. This effect compounds repeatedly and pretty soon you are 6 hours into a 1-hour project. The key to successful planning is leaving extra time for these unexpected delays.
Dad always tells me that planning a project is like running a long-distance hurdle race, only half the hurdles are invisible. Your goal is not to try to get through the race without stumbling but instead to guess how many times you're going to stumble and prepare for it. I still need a lot of work before I am ready to plan on a business scale. But I am planning for that and I will get there.
I hope this post finds you in good health and of a sound mind. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering...
What are you planning for?