Category Archives: Process/WoW

Bad quality scales superlinearly

Take any given production process and assume it is not producing good enough quality let’s call it ‘crap’ to make it a bit more expressive. Now, ask yourself what happens if you scale this process by adding more workers and machines/material. Well? Continue reading

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Productivity and Workplace Design

If you are working at a company where cost savings are really really important, then chances are that after reducing cost factor number 1 (wages, i.e. headcount and hourly rate), cost factor number 2 is up. And that is office space.

However, there is a lot of evidence that a correct office workplace is one of the most important factors in productivity, as DeMarco and Lister put it in “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams”:

Police-mentality planners design workplaces the way
they would design prisons: optimized for containment
at minimal cost. We have unthinkingly yielded to
them on the subject of workplace design, yet for most
organizations with productivity problems, there is no
more fruitful area for improvement than the work-
place.

As long as workers are crowded into noisy, sterile, dis-
ruptive space, it’s not worth improving anything but
the workplace.

A factor of 2-3 can be reached compared to an open office or cubicle workspace by following one basic principle of somehow putting the team together in one location and limiting outside interference. Ed Yourdon mentions a few methods for achieving this in his “Death March” book:

  • Frontal attack: Convince a project owner such as a high-level manager to put the team into an effective work environment.
  • Skunk works mystique: Isolate the team in a separate location isolated from the rest.
  • Squatter’s rights: Commandeer existing empty office space.
  • Telecommute: Tell everyone to work from home an meet regularly at a location outside of the office.  “As an additional diversion, you can put scarecrow-style dummies at the desks normally occupied by the project team; management will have a hard time distinguishing them from the other zombies in the office.”
  • Graveyard shift: Shift working times to the night shift.
  • Barricades and buffers: In an open office space locate the team together and put up barricades such as cupboards.
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Quality == Culture

From “Toyota Culture: The heart and soul of the Toyota way”.

“If a Toyota leader was asked why they allowed the line to stop, she might make the point that the value the organisation places on quality is higher than hitting production numbers.”, p. 7

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Planning experiences…

After all these years, one thing keeps on coming back: If a project is very well plannable then it is probably not an interesting project.

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Your boss knows more about innovation then you do…

Here's a quote from 'Myths of Innovation', Scott Berkun, first paragraph of chapter 7.

 "What advice would typical executives give Stephen Hawking, one of the brightest living minds, if he worked for them? Would they ask him to write daily status reports? Defend his action items from PowerPoint slides at team debrief meetings? Of similar curiosity is whether Steve Wozniak, Albert Einstein, or Isaac Newton ever filled out time cards, wrote performance reviews, or had their ideas ranked on scorecards by committees of middle managers. Could you imagine Mozart, da Vinci, or Marie Curie sitting next to each other, taking notes, at an all day company wide event/ It's hard to see any of these commonplace situations working outwell for the prospect of innovation."

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