Don’t Let Your Work Be a Queue from Hell! Go Small !!!

Have you ever found yourself in a long queue? Long checkout line at the grocery store… long queue to the bank teller… long queue to the Ticketmaster booth… just recently, first day of school this Monday, I have experienced a long queue !!!


Here is another visual: have you ever flushed a toilet that was draining slowly …that the flushed water rushes in and then backs up and eventually overflows (yuck!)? The rate of draining is slower than the rate of water rushing in…as a result, forming a “queue” of water (and waste) backing out to a point that it overflows!

'I found the clog.'

Yeah … you get the visual! There is something ‘clogging’ the system (grocery, bank teller, school, toilet — any other ‘system’, you pick). The ‘flow’, whatever that flow is, is not flowing efficiently. That something is a “large-sized” one.

In the toilet scenario, something large is clogging the system; grocery checkout line scenario — someone has a large grocery to check out with only one server for the queue of customers; likewise for the bank teller scenario — someone has a large transaction with just one teller serving the getting longer queue of customers; likewise for the first-day-in-school scenario — inefficient computerized check-in system (yes, one computer system) serving one family member at a time (first day of school, you see not just parents, you see also grandparents — yes, large families)…as a result, a long queue of parents, grandparents and students!

The point is this: work flows faster with small units… not large units. Hence the reason why the Lean mindset (focused on efficiency) prefers small batches of values rather than large batches of values flowing through the system. We want small units for faster throughput (small lead time — the time from the “work” starts to time the “work” ends), resulting in manageable shorter queue, faster delivery of incremental value and faster feedback / learning loop…so that we can observe the delivered value and adjust (pivot or persevere) accordingly… sooner rather than later.

SAFe Principle #6 stated it well: “Visualize and limit WIP (Work In Process), reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths

In that spirit, you will see me blog my thoughts in small snippets of value with more frequency (daily)! Incrementally releasing / posting small-sized values as part of a large set of collective values. I am excited to go small — blog daily, and thereby reducing my already very long queue of ideas to blog —  starting today!