In PART 1 of this case study, we described the planning
of a very personal project involving "downsizing". According to Wikipedia,
amongst other interpretations: "Downsizing is being regarded by management as
one of the preferred routes to turning around declining organizations, cutting
costs, and improving organizational performance."
That sounds like a good description of this project as a case in point.
Editor's Note: This paper is a record of an actual project presented for use as a general project management class exercise. For this reason, specific names of companies or individuals have been carefully omitted. However, anyone wishing further information may contact the author through the contact information provided on this web site.
Project Execution - Work Packages 1 & 2
The execution of the various tasks in the Master Plan went quite smoothly, but there is no question that the pressure was on. To achieve them we canceled all other engagements and activities and gave our full attention to the project. You might think that six months was a generous allocation of time but in spite of our attempts to "get ahead of schedule" we were still faced with a "high productivity" period surrounding the final move. Because we were aware of this and that, once set, the move date was absolute, we scheduled the bulk of the activities to be conducted over the first five months leaving nearly a month of "float". It was as well that we did.
Work package #1
This consisted of listing all of our belongings and deciding their disposition. It was one thing to mark each item accordingly on paper, quite another to recognize which was what when looking at the item itself. Initially, this gave rise to a lot of unnecessary repetitive decision-making. Therefore, we resorted to marking - but how? Office bullet markers of various kinds refused to stay stuck. Finally we resorted to cutting up colored electrical tape as small flags. This worked very well, in fact, too well on furniture, as it tended to peel off the varnish. Nevertheless, this exercise was invaluable when it came to physically moving furniture. As a result of this strategy, we were still finding flags on items, weeks after we had moved in.
Some furniture items we thought had value so we took those to dealers who offered to sell the items on our behalf for a percentage of what ever they sold for. This got rid of some stuff but so far we have not seen any return. Other items we posted on Craig's list. Workshop tools proved a hot item, general household items moved slowly and gardening tools were a wash out. We were happy for our neighbors to help themselves. Beds and mattresses, for various health reasons, are particularly difficult to dispose of.
Work package #2
Coordinating our team members-under-contract probably gave rise to the most risks. However, being very specific on our requirements, what was to be done and when we wanted it done, helped considerably. Arranging services at the SILC (senior's independent living community) residence, such as regular telephone and TV, as well as high-speed Internet and cheap-rate international telephone calling, presented no difficulty.
Shipping furniture to San Diego and to Toronto proved to be problematic. The
cost and hassle of crossing the border to a US destination was simply prohibitive
and so was abandoned. Shipping to Toronto followed the normal path of making inquiries
of various moving companies; making a selection; obtaining an estimate for a given
inventory and signing up; preparing goods for shipment; and ensuring that they
arrived safely at the other end. And, of course, paying the bill. This last proved
something of a shock, as without any change in inventory shipped, the actual charge
was substantially higher than estimated. (We have theories about this and have written separately, see Musings - A Lesson Learned).
We knew that we would need help with disposing of a lot of stuff, particularly with "a final clearance". For this we solicited the help of a young lady starting her own business as a professional organizer and certified home stager. At a very modest cost, she successfully found homes for all remaining stuff after we had taken first pickings. Her added advantage was that she was already familiar with SILC and helped us to understand what to expect on arrival.
13. Mellahi, K. and Wilkinson, A. (2004) Downsizing and Innovation Output: A Review of Literature and Research Propositions, BAM Paper 2004, British Academy of Management.
14. Craig's List: vancouver.en.craigslist.ca