Bearing Fruit

During summer I turn into a recreational gardener hoping to grow a few vegetables for some delightful dinners. The first couple of summers I learned plants need plenty of sunlight and soil that drains well. This year I witnessed firsthand the effect of overcrowding in a garden plot. In my exuberance to increase my vegetable harvest, I overcrowded my plot at the community garden. A bell pepper plant was quickly overshadowed by squash, zucchini, and tomato plants. It stayed green, but did produce a single pepper from May through July. After an insect infestation killed the squash and zucchini I removed all the surrounding plants to leave the bell pepper plant alone with nothing else to compete for sunlight. The result from this single plant was over 35 peppers during August and September.

Like a gardener, I want to know how to get more fruit from my labor at work. I’m passionate about working smarter, finding efficiencies, and eliminating wasted outputs. My experience with the pepper plant this summer reminds me of load leveling work in our groups through prioritization. Too many plants competing for sunlight is analogous to an overload of active projects that force our people and equipment into constant context switching.  The resulting work output is delayed and often suffers more quality problems due to the lack of focus.

Our appetites for the amount of work we want to produce (collecting fruit) typically far exceed our ability to produce work (bearing fruit). Managers have to protect the capacity of people and equipment by releasing work when it can flow uninterrupted. Sometimes expanding capacity is an option, but other times, we need to work within the capacity boundaries that exist to produce work in a controlled and focused cadence.

Protect people and equipment so they can deliver more fruit.

Onward and upward!