Streams

Image by cowins on Pixabay

On this particular job site, each member of the team has a job to do. Each morning assignments are given. As each task is completed, the next task is assigned. The leader of this team must plan out each day, and give out the next part of the plan as every individual task is completed.

This approach has been in place for a while. Let’s call it the “wait until you complete this task before you get the next one approach” for lack of a better, more concise term.

To makes things even more interesting, certain members of the team became better at particular tasks. As the assignments were issued, those who were better at certain tasks were always assigned those tasks.

This system has revealed a few issues.

  1. Members of the team have developed skills, but a very narrow set of skills. They can do certain parts of the work, but not all of it. When someone is out or busy, work can come to a halt.
  2. Projects have become more complex. The work accomplished on day one has to connect to someone else’s work the next day, and it wasn’t matching up. There was a lot of doing work, then going back to fix it the next day.

Once identified, the leader came up with a better plan.

Streams. That is what we need.”

I paused to wait for the explanation.

Streams. A continual flow from the start to the finish on these various projects. I realize that by just assigning tasks, individual parts were completed, but there was no connection into the larger project as a whole. No real understanding of how these part fit together. No ownership of the whole.”

I paused again.

Streams. I could map out the beginning and the end, and let them flow through the entire part or project. I bet they would be happier. I recently heard some grumbling because when parts don’t fit together they have to redo work. I bet this will help them develop more well rounded skills . I have to go create these Streams.

Where have you assigned tasks instead of Streams? How could creating a flow of work from the start to finish increase satisfaction, performance, and connection to the whole?

Let’s try giving members of the team Streams instead of tasks and watch them develop and flow from the beginning to the end.

Opportunities or Obstacles?

We are all faced with tasks or assignments that are not always our first choice. Some are placed upon us from others, some just arrive at our doorstep. I am not talking about the great tasks we enjoy, and are excited about starting. These are the tasks that you would rather not complete. The tasks we tend to procrastinate.

What makes these tasks less desirable? Sometimes these tasks are just unpleasant, but more often a different pattern emerges. These tasks typically invoke a fear or insecurity that wakes the narrator. These tasks combined with that negative voice become large obstacles.  Obstacles that cause us to stop.

More recently, I have recognized this pattern. Now when that task combines with my inner voice I pause and size up the obstacle. Is it really as bad as I thought? Will I really fail completely?  Probably not!

At these times I reflect on something I heard recently. (I cannot remember where I heard it so if you can attribute it, let me know.)

“Do the next thing you know the least about…”

This reminds me to push beyond the obstacle, and look for the opportunity. Will it be perfect? Nope. Will I learn? Yes. 

As scary at it can seem, I am looking forward to the next opportunity. I just have to remind my narrator to be quiet, because I have work to do!