I recently read an article on cleaning up when one misses something (Rubin, 2014, April 3, http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140403101923-6526187/do-you-spend-too-much-time-looking-for-things-you-can’t-find-solution-revealed/trk=tod-posts-recentPosts/ptit, downloaded April 3, 2014). Rubin explains that “cleaning up” when one cannot find something can often help to reduce clutter making things easier to find.
To be honest, I had kind of expected more of a metaphor to this article. Perhaps “cleaning up” could represent other things in our lives and in our work. However, it seems the author was really just talking about self-organization. Rubin’s concept, however, can be utilized in ways that go beyond just being able to find one’s things.
How can we apply the concept of “cleaning up” to organizations and our personal lives? When an organization or a person comes to a place where it is difficult to find’s one’s mission or purpose, it can become difficult for that organization or person to function in ways that take maximum advantage of the potential of the organization or person. If a person or organization is floating in an abyss without a clear sense of mission or purpose, they need to do some “cleaning up” before they can return to full function.
Does that mean that we have to change everything about the organization or ourselves? No, it does not. Whether what we might be able to suggest is that personal inventory is important to building organizational brand, personal brand / identity, and soul (the latter in the case of individuals). This means looking at essential functions to determine what is most important about a particular function and which is not as important.
Just like sorting through one’s things, regular inventories can keep an organization or person on track. While there are things that one may want to get rid of, it’s important to know what those things are. It is just as important to know which things are essential to mission and purpose. Regular personal/organizational inventories keep these things in perspective.