Juggling Work - Thinking Lean

Aug 30, 2019 11:00:00 AM / by John Cockburn-Evans

There is  a considerable amount of material on how to be more personally effective.  This is a hot topic as the world becomes more complex, there are greater expectations on individuals  and timelines are getting shorter. 

Considerable written materials are available on Time Management, but juggling work is not just about managing time  and prioritisation. It is about thinking strategically and working on things that really matter. There was a recent article by  Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays around the benefits of not being  busy all the time, and particulalry parking projects. Not only does this free up time, it allows people to think more strategically. It also allows people to learn new skills, and  hone their thought processes. One of the additional  challenges is that people have a tendency to follow the principles of Parkinson's Law, i.e. they expand their work activities to fill the available time. I know from my own experience  I have been guilty of this approach. It's a great feeling  to clear the desk and get things done, but as humans we have a need to fill the void that has been created. This is where we can use the principles of lean thinking to mitigate this. 

A "Lean" mindset is one where waste is challenged at every stage. If we start to treat our own work as a process, then we start to question the "value add" portions of the activities we are executing. If we look at the ratio of  non-value adding work to value adding work in the context of business processes the ratio of  NVA to VA can be as ineffective as 80/20 in the worst cases. If we then apply similar thinking to our own work, then maybe we are not being effective and can remove activities This will create the space to be more effective and strategic. 

From a coaching perspective, we need to teach ourselves to be more self-aware and mindful. As this happens, we should be better placed to trigger the inner debate on whether our activities are truly value adding. 

Tags: Task, waste, Organisation, agile

John Cockburn-Evans

Written by John Cockburn-Evans