Ben on Business | Order

Order. Let all things have their places; let each part
of your business have its time. BEN FRANKLIN

We’re taking a quick spin through Ben Franklin’s list of 13 virtues to see what we can learn from them.

The 13 virtues (behaviors), as you recall, constitute the personal self-improvement program Franklin designed in his effort to pursue perfection.

Order was the third item on his list, and his specific goal was to use order and discipline to acquire more time for his varied projects and studies.

Once again it’s clear that in many ways, Franklin was outlining the key principles that anchor modern Total Quality and Lean improvement processes such as 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain).

It’s also interesting to note that he never fully mastered the virtue of order. Much later in life he wrote that it gave him the most trouble, particularly when he was traveling and mixing with the world. He noted, “Order, too, with regard to places for things, papers, etc., I found extremely difficult to acquire.”

Franklin bemoans his lack of perfection in this regard, but in his own inimitable way, he offers a wonderful rationalization. “[A] benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance.”

His advice is sound: Let all things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

The lesson? Perfection may be attainable, but it may not be desirable  if you want to keep a few friends and colleagues.


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