August 03

Leadership hack 024 – balancing discovery and delivery


“Improving daily work is even more important than doing daily work”

Gene Kim

It is very, very easy to focus relentlessly on what you are trying to accomplish.  Time and resource constraints conspire you to throw everything at getting the task done, the product shipped or the problem fixed.

  1. Attack the constraints. A constraint is typically one person who wears multiple “expert” hats and through which a disproportionate amount of work “has to” go through in order to get done correctly.  There are 5 steps for attacking the constraints which is one of the main ways to increase the flow of work:
    1. Identify the constraint (who are they?)
    2. Exploit the constraint (get the most out of them – meaning: only critical work)
    3. Subordinate the constraint (everything else is secondary to achieving #2)
    4. Elevate the constraint (change other systems to increase capacity of constraint)
    5. If a new constraint arises during any of the previous steps, go back to step 1
  2. Eradicate sources of unplanned work
  3. Standardize and automate infrastructure. Without that we have an infrastructure snowflake problem (no two servers/load balancers/deployments are alike).

There are several great book that provide insight on balancing improvement with execution.

Military focus – Turn the Ship Around

Technology focused – The Phoenix Project

Manufacture/operatinos focused – The Goal