Two opposite methods can be used to get work done.
You can respond 100% to circumstances and then react accordingly. Answering a ringing phone is an example of responding and reacting.
You can plan everything 100% and only take action after the plan has been thoroughly designed, tested, and approved. Constructing a building or new piece of machinery are two examples of planned activities.
In the real world, and especially in a world where customers are constantly buying, a balanced approach is necessary. Here’s why.
Imagine a business where customers can either walk in and buy, or call you on the phone and place orders for products. The products are numerous – there are hundreds of different varieties and versions – each with minor, yet specific, differences.
To support this business, you need inventory. The inventory is partially manufactured and partially supplied by third parties. This inventory and raw materials arrives in a variety of different styled trucks. Each different style of truck requires its own manner of unloading and then storage. Hence, a large warehouse is required. To make all of this happen, humans are required to drive forklifts, pallet jacks, and trucks. Inventory needs to be accounted for. Orchestrating the human effort is non-stop. And this is just on the receiving end.
On the outgoing, or shipping side of the equation, the same (or slightly different) style of trucks, forklifts, and manpower are all required again.
In a perfect world, orders would be taken, fulfilled, shipped, invoiced, and payment received without any hiccups.
In reality, stuff happens. Fixes need to be made. Thousands of micro adjustments and on-the-spot decision making is essential.
If you’re not getting anything shipped, then you’re probably over-planning and need to become a little more reactionary.
If you’re shipping like crazy but there are lots of errors and inefficiencies, then you could be too reactionary and need a better plan.
Moving the line a little to the left (toward planning) or a little to the right (toward reacting) could make a big difference in your productivity.
Do you show up every morning and simply react to the circumstances?
Are you seeing mistakes and inefficiencies?
Do you need to plan just a little bit better?