Friday, May 8, 2009

Doing more with less

Doing more with less is often heard around the office as a battle cry for “we’re not going to hire more people or increase the budget…just get it done.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of becoming more efficient or more effective. But as is often the case, we try to solve the problem with the wrong solution…just make people work harder.

If a project scope increases and the team is losing a member, who will not be replaced the project manager is told, “Look we gotta make this happen. We’ll have to figure out a way to do more with less.” Without much further debate on the issue, the business owner tells the PM to get his team to do a little more over-time. After all, it is just for a short period of time and “we just have to buckle down and all pull together on this one.”

The team was already working a lot of over-time, so as a VP I reported to once asked his team in a similar discussion, “aren’t we trying to squeeze water from a rock?”

More over-time as a solution to doing more with less is a great way to burn people out, cause people to quit and increase poor quality, which leads to re-work.

Try giving a graphic designer or a writer or an instructional designer half the time to complete a project and tell me if you think quality can remain “our number one priority.”

Telling people to worker hard in sprints can work well. But sustained gains in efficiency and effectiveness can only be improved by changing the processes.

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