Accelerate Flow — Manage Thy WIP and WIP Limit

Juggling too many “balls in the air” without dropping any is tough to most people — the probability of ‘a ball being dropped’ is high. The “balls in the air” is analogous to our WIP — our Work In Process. The “too many ‘balls…'” is relative, of course, to the juggler’s skills.

Limiting WIP — the number of “balls in the air” — decreases the probability of “a ball being dropped”. Still, the “too many balls in air” is relative to the juggler’s skills.

Since everything is relative, including WIP, then go ahead and experiment vis-a-vis the right level of WIP… with the idea of achieving and maintaining an optimum continuous delivery Flow Rate of value.

And always find ways to accelerate flow.

Two of the many ways to accelerate flow are the following:

  • manage WIP vis-a-vis the Delivery Throughput rate.
  • implement WIP limits where it makes sense and do this empirically. Implement this in your process’s steps to alleviate bottlenecks. These bottlenecks are constraints to Value Flow.. and can slowdown Value Delivery and Value realization.

A “dropped ball” is embodied or manifested by, but not limited to, the following:

  • defects.
  • Delays due to waiting — the “wait for your turn” queue is long — too much WIP in progress — see Figure-1 below.
  • partially done work due to haste or cutting corners.
  • Task-switching — causing Delays in Value delivery.
Figure-1: Long queue at Starbuck due to a large order up front… as a result, WIP was large… causing a long queue of waiting customers… what a waste! The Barista (Starbucks) should have had an order limit (WIP Limit) as a policy.
By Clarence Galapon

CE, MBA, Lean Agile Coach, Trainer, Teacher, SPC, RTE, PSM, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP, CC, ABNLP NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Practitioner, NLP Coach, NLP Trainer, Practical Psychologist, Life Coach, Software Executive, Entrepreneur, Author, Investor, and Innovator with a Creative, Lean, Agile, and Wander mindset.

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