Imagine you move into a new house. You get your furniture into the correct rooms, and then you break out the hammer and nails. You nail down all your furniture, locking it into place in the first configuration you chose. Without great effort and perhaps even some damage, the configuration can’t change.
Seems silly, doesn’t it? Even if you’re perfectly happy with how your furniture is arranged (and why wouldn’t you be – you picked it!), you recognize that it might not always be so. It’s not even that you might change your mind, it’s that you might change your situation. You might get new furniture that’s a slightly different size and shape. You might get additional things, or no longer need something you now have. You might move again – or someone new might move in with you. In any case, you recognize that things may change in ways you can’t predict now.
One of the best small purchases I ever made were these little furniture slider things – basically small felt pads you put on the bottom of furniture to make it easier to move around without compromising stability. They’re great.
The configuration of the furniture in your place is a system. That system serves a purpose, but it also needs to retain some flexibility. All systems do. Otherwise, we have to entirely scrap them when even the slightest thing changes. But we forget to install “furniture sliders” on so many of our systems. We forget to build, in advance, the ways to make future change easy.
We save things as PDFs and email them to colleagues instead of sending them a link to a shared Google doc that we can continue to modify. We build an org chart for an exact headcount but don’t incorporate procedures for bringing on or losing team members. Stuff like that.
Any time you’re building a system that you intend to use for more than a month, especially if your timeline for using that system is “indefinitely,” make sure you put some sliders on it. Don’t nail it to the floor.