The more I serve in this capacity, the more I realize that much of what I’ve learned over my years in corporate applies to managing the church. “Doing church” each weekend is a lot about logistics. You know, having everything you need, where you need it when you need it. Pulling this off, though, in a multi-purpose facility is difficult. Over time, everything gets shuffled, and the clutter and inefficiency stifle you before you know it.
In the manufacturing industry, not only is efficiency important, but high quality is also a concern. Building high-quality products in a cluttered, inefficient environment is difficult. Enter the concept of “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
It’s pretty simple. Everything that it takes to build a product (materials, tools, fixtures, equipment, etc.) has a designated location, and nothing that is not needed is allowed to be at the workstation. Sounds pretty simple, right?
While I was a Plant Manager in Mexico, I used to go down to the production floor and “rifle through” the various workstations (drawers, shelves, etc.). I remember being amazed at the amount of “stuff” that would accumulate. In some cases, it was just due to the employee at the workstation being a “pack rat.” Correcting this was a matter of setting expectations and holding people accountable for meeting the expectations. The more difficult situations were when an employee was trying to get the job done, and leadership hadn’t provided them with what they needed. In this case, a place for everything they needed to get the job done wasn’t provided. They, therefore, stuffed it in a drawer or otherwise “found a place” for it.
I’ve learned over and over that people will find a way to get the job done. They will find a way, despite the obstacles, to get done what you are asking of them. The challenge is that most of the time, we, as their leaders, don’t like the way they’ve found to “workaround” the obstacles. If you put them in a situation where they are expected to create an exciting, dynamic production every Sunday without space to store props, supplies, and equipment, they will get it done anyway and end up stuffing things in every available space.
To illustrate my point I’ll describe the exercise I am now leading our staff through. Due to lack of financial resources and our insistence that “the ministry comes first,” we built a building that has very little if any storage space. In fact, it doesn’t even have enough office space for our staff. We did this for the right reasons, but the result is not very pleasant. In fact, we were “busted” pretty seriously by our local Fire Marshal during a recent inspection for having “stuff” crammed everywhere!
So, as I’ve always found to be the case, our staff is doing what is necessary to get their jobs done. You’ve got to admire their tenacity. Unfortunately, there is “stuff” everywhere.
The solution? As leaders, we must evaluate the real need for equipment and supplies and provide “a place for everything.” In our case, this means offsite storage. It’s interesting. Making a decision not to provide proper storage space in a building is only a decision to increase operating costs through storage space rental. In other words, it doesn’t save money. Space is needed regardless, and storage space isn’t free.
Once a place for everything has been established and communicated, it’s necessary to instill the discipline of putting “everything in its place.” I hear it all the time, “Do we have to put that in storage? I’m going to need it in 2 weeks.” Where are you going to put it for the two weeks it’s not needed? I can tell you. It will be leaned up against the back of the building outside and never be put in storage. Before you know it, it’s rusted (or otherwise damaged) and has to be replaced. The staff has to get used to the idea that they will have to use the six days between Sundays to go to and from storage as needed to prepare for the coming weekend.
Of course, a vehicle has to be provided, and the storage space has to be organized in such a way as to make everything easy to store and retrieve. Again, this costs money and takes time.
A place for everything and everything in its place is an operational must!