• Planning ahead of time what it will take to achieve a desired outcome
  • Thinking through the priorities, resources, and methods necessary to achieve a specific result
  • Working smarter, not just harder, by leveraging knowledge, experience, team skills and available tools

One of my favorite of FFL’s GuideMarks is “Work by Design”, or as I like to interpret it “always be prepared”. This GuideMark relies on several critical components, such as planning ahead, being equipped with the required resources and tools, leveraging knowledge, experience, etc. Of course, all of these, combined into one system, are necessary for the successful application of this principal. Just as critical though is to evaluate and adapt the one system as needed. So much of “Work by Design” is leveraging past experiences and knowledge gained from those experiences, both successful and less successful and maybe sometimes even failures, and adapting to be better prepared for future opportunities.

When I think of applying the Work by Design FFL GuideMark, I always like to think of it in terms of focusing on the aspects of life or a situation that I can control.  Everyone has heard the saying Murphy’s law, Sod’s law, or other variation, which is “if something can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible time.” Some may see this as a negative outlook, but I view it as a guiding principal on how to approach any task, problem, or everyday situation. For instance, before I go on a long car trip I make a list (digital of course) of everything that needs to be packed, check the tires and pressure (including the spare), check all fluids, make sure I have hand tools, duct tape, and some good old WD-40 of course. There’s quite a bit more that gets packed, but you get the point.  
Two years ago, we traveled down to the southeastern part of Oklahoma and stayed in a cabin with our in-laws to celebrate our tradition of Christmas in January together. Like all trips I made my list, checked it twice to make sure everything in my travel system was accounted for and packed in its place. Of course, like most travel, everything went fine, with just a couple of hours of bored kids on the back end of the trip, slightly accelerating our arrival time. It wasn’t too long after everyone had arrived, and we had a chance to make dinner, when the power went out. After verifying that it was just more than our cabin that was impacted by the outage, we contacted the owners who eventually let us know it may not be back on for a while. Now, I always carry at least two flashlights with me and an extra on trips, but three flashlights wasn’t going to cut it for lighting the whole cabin. So, I ended up making the long trip into town to pick up some lanterns, candles, and additional flashlights. Thankfully the power outage only lasted for one night, especially with the temperatures as low as they were, but it would have been much better if everyone didn’t have to spend a couple of hours in the dark. I have since updated my travel system to include several small lanterns that can easily be distributed, in addition to my flashlights. No, it’s not likely that we’ll lose power again, but I have found the addition of the small lanterns to be quite useful illumination in various other circumstances already.
It’s always critical to be proactive and have a plan, as well as the resources and tools needed to complete a task to tackle a problem. However, it is equally as crucial to leverage past experiences to grow knowledge and adapt the system of resources and tools to accommodate for potential challenges. Though applying these principals will not guarantee perfect results when hurdles present themselves, it will make them easier to overcome, especially if you can see.


Key Words and Phrases
Skillful use of time and energy; Good use of resources with little waste; Produce desired result effectively; Work smarter, not just harder; Potent; Fruitful; Efficient; Productive

Opposite Terms
Wasteful; Ineffective; Unproductive; Ill-planned

GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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