Throughout the last year, I have been surprised by the Swiss army knife that is limiting your work-in-progress. When I tell people:
You can’t do more work than you can handle.
Everyone gets that. C Level execs, economists, bankers, nurses, middle managers, soccer moms – everyone gets the truth in that statement.
But what it’s taken me some time to realize is that, the statement doesn’t compel people to action. It should, but it needs a little oomph.
So this series, which will be followed by a series of “How To Limit Your WIP,” will also be turned into a Mememachine book. At the end of this year, I will release all four of the 2012 Mememachines (Why Plans Fail, 15 Elements of Kanban, and these two on limiting your WIP) as physical books, to provide one quick document with all this vital information.
But, for now, we are focusing on Why Limit Your WIP.
In the end, it all comes back to the sentence: You can’t do more work than you can handle. But why? Why can’t we do more work than we can handle? What happens when we exceed our WIP?
Intuitively it makes sense, but we all live in a world that provides constant interruptions, overloads us with information and expectations, and we all – each and every one of us – want to help others. We place ourselves in situations where saying “no” makes sense to no one – not even ourselves. We place others in positions where they need to complete things for us, when we have no understanding of what their workload is.
As bosses, we see people’s time as finite and easily dividable. We believe our estimates and we believe that work only happens within the Gantt chart.
There are at least 10 very good reasons to limit your work-in-progress. Over the next 10 installments, we’ll discuss them in depth. Again, I’m certain there are more. If you come up with others, contact me or Toni for a guest blog, we’d love to have them on the PK site.
What are those 1o you might ask? They include how Limiting Work in Progress help:
- Processing and Memory
- Context Switching
- Creating an Economy
- Healthy Constraints
Done! Please check these out – they are currently in the editing and extending mill and will become another Modus MemeMachine Book.