Stop Starting, Start Finishing!

Day 187.

Yup… stop pulling in work… and start finishing whatever work you have inflight or in process.

Lower that ‘Work In Process (WIP)’ of yours and your team to lower your lead time (lead time — time for you to complete a unit of work to delivery — is the same time — the ‘wait time’ — to a customer)… the lower your lead time is, the shorter the queue length of waiting customers.

Think of ‘Starbucks’.

I once waited for 20 minutes for my turn to order 1 cup of coffee.

Why? There was only one barista… and there — up front of the queue of customers like me — is someone who ordered 20 cups of coffee … and not just regular kind of coffee … each one need special preparation! Can you imagine had that customer just ordered one cup of coffee? Yup… the queue length of customers would have been short! The WIP would be just one cup… and not 20 cups!

Start finishing … bring down your WIP… and that’s what the barista did… he halted the orders … and started focusing on completing the order of 20 cups… reducing his WIP one cup at a time.

I had similar horrible long queue experiences as a customer at KFC and McDonalds.

In the software development industry, luckily, we can control our WIP… just take in what you can do — in a reasonable short time — from a highly prioritized set of work!

We must all be good at balancing demand and capacity We do this all the time, personally — right? If yes, then why not do it at work?!

The key is in the WIP management. Demand versus capacity. Just take in what you can do — in a reasonable short time — from a highly prioritized set of work… loading up your planned schedule of work (i.e iteration (sprint)) limiting it to a small batch of WIP… and start finishing those!

Also… you’ve got to have a lean flow of work … which entails small batches of WIP… don’t make the WIP huge: stop starting… start finishing.

Oh… keep the right level of WIP… you neither want a bloated WIP nor a starved WIP!

Lean Flow… make your WIP like water, my friend. Like the water of a good dam… not too high, not too low… keep the level of WIP just right. What is ‘just right’? The best you and your team can do to achieve a lean and continuous flow… without blockages or constraints.

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