Every work environment has a well defined “work model”. It is common to hear people saying things like “- there is no process at all here! We just do it.”. Even in these cases, where there isn't an explicit “process”, a work model can be extracted and used as starting point for improvement.

Your work model is just the way you do the work at certain point. It is dynamic, because it evolves positively or negatively along time regardless your will. However, it evolves slowly most of the time allowing you to extract a physycal representation that can help you to see how it looks like at certain point, what are possible improvement points to persue and, mainly, what are your current options for taking action and delivery not only things right, but also the right things.

Identify and understand your work model, visualize it and talk about it frequently is a great way to increase awareness of the game you are playing. Visualization enhances your hability to analyze your options and choose the one considering the whole context, not only your current pressures.

A good way to stabilize your work model is to create a physical representation that make those options explicit. Physycal and electronic kanban boards are just perfect for this job.

Another important aspect of work models stabilization is the establishment of a regular cadence of value delivery. This cadence is essential not only to make explicit your ability to reach your purpose regularly, but also to make explicit if you are getting better or worst in this game as time goes on.

When we talk about cadence, we need to talk about time. Time is always the dominant parameter for knowledge work or creative work. The question is never “What should be done to reach the goal?” but always “How much time do I have to reach the goal?”. For this type of work, the iron triangle is obsolete. We commit to an objective and use the time we have to generate a scope whose purpose is to reach the goal. The scope is always output, never input.

Frequency of value delivery (your process “heart beat”) is where you can evaluate the most important feedback loop of your work place. A known frequency of value delivery implies predictability and a predictable delivery process is an important indication of a healthy process.

Every work process could be stabilized using these few concepts: visualize it, talk about it and persue cadence. Yes, it could be better by doing that, but you shouldn't do that only for the sake of just making it better, you should do it because you need to put your car on the right road. Few things are so wasteful as putting your car to move faster on the wrong road.

Posted by: alissonvale
Posted on: 10/14/2012 at 2:48 AM
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Categories: Management | thoughts
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