I love building systems. I tear them apart, build them back up. Every project is an opportunity to play with the “system,” try new things, experiment. Even if I kept the system in place, the people or other variables change — never the same twice. This drive towards experimentation will spin towards chaos if not held in careful opposition to efficiency. Refinement, learning, adapting; these are the ways that the system is tweaked and geared towards ever leaner timelines and finer, more precise results. Sometimes, you just blow it up and start over. The creative act of building allows you to discard the dross and focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. What is the goal? How do I get there? How many roads?
A few years ago, I wanted to better understand a methodology, to systematize it. By making it more repeatable and more efficient, I could spread my system across a practice. I facilitated group workshops, white boards, socialized decks, trained others on it, eventually putting together a comprehensive 30-page document about it. Where is it? Sitting on my computer desktop. Things change. Publishing meant freezing the system and I wasn’t ready to do that.
Instead, I continue to blow it up, learn new tools, adapt to changing markets and project types, focus on how to best solve the problem without getting hung up on how I’ve done it in the past. Hone the experience, learn from each opportunity. Perhaps I’ll update the documentation or create a rubric that will help guide others so they understand the choices available. Starting over doesn’t mean starting from scratch; no one can take away what you’ve learned from the past. Understand that you don’t have to be too precious about your work. You never truly lose anything, except the opportunity to do it better.