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Think Big, Start Small
“Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.”
— Arthur Ashe
A strategy for success doesn’t get much simpler than that. Ashe’s message is an acknowledgement that few undertakings have everything they need at the outset. The timing might be off, and the desired resources might not all be in place. Unfortunately, waiting and hoping that everything eventually comes together generally results in procrastination.
In institutional and commercial facilities, budget considerations often limit a maintenance and engineering manager’s ability to plan a project or implement a program. Tight staffing and busy facility schedules only add to the challenge. So what’s a manager to do?
“Start simple and easy,” writes Michael Cowley in his Management Insight column on page 6. “Begin with life-safety items, and when that succeeds, begin to grow the program. Don’t let the need for perfection stand in the way of progress.”
Cowley outlines some steps managers can take to overcome stumbling blocks when implementing a preventive maintenance program. But managers can use the strategy in any situation where it’s smarter to take a smaller, less costly step before committing to a broader, more expensive effort. While circumstances might dictate a more limited approach, it also can have benefits.
For example, managers seeking to get portable technology into the hands of all front-line technicians first might roll out the products to a select few. A limited rollout lets managers troubleshoot problems before making a larger investment for the rest of the department. Grounds managers converting traditional turf to native plants could start with a small parcel, enabling them to learn which plants thrive before committing more resources to converting larger areas.
The temptation in business is to think big, but starting small is a proven strategy for using available resources to gain a small foothold that, if nurtured properly, can turn into broader success.