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We’re Not Saying No, We’re Saying Not Yet: The Value of Reducing Works In Progress


In order to increase output form an organisation, the number of projects in process is an important factor to break down and analyse. Instead of just going from the boardroom to the blueprints, it has been suggested that we focus on projects which cost more in delays. Of course, there is no immediate and concrete way to determine how much lost revenue derives from a delay. But even so, the delay can be attributed to competitors and market changes. For example, if you were Samsung and you had created a phone that had a new advanced camera feature, and better reception but also something random yet miraculous and convenient. For example, immediate and accurate image reader which converts what a picture of a block of text says, and can convert said image into a word file. Each day that new convenience is not in the market is another day that Apple could be developing that same revolutionary technology. Who wants a theoretical Samsung upgrade, with that new feature, if their brand new Apple device can do exactly the same, and it came out six months ago.


With this example in mind, surely It is clear that every day would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in potential revenue. This, hopefully, has provided some immediate perspective.


With this in mind, it has been suggested by Jorgen Hesselberg in his 2020 conference for Agile New England, that limiting the work in progresses that you have in your company is absolutely crucial when working in an agile way. Why have two high-pressure projects competing for employee time and attention, when if you dedicated all of your manpower to the projects, one at a time, you would be able to reduce the time that a project is in progress, and then quickly shift your attention to the next one, significantly reducing the time it would take for turnaround etc.


Hesselberg acknowledged that the best way to deal with new ideas for products, services and solutions in the workplace is not to outright dismiss the idea, and instead, simply admit that, in this exact moment in time the company needs to focus their attention on their current WIP. Therefore, declaring “we’re not saying no, we’re saying not yet”, yet being the word with the most weight.


You can put ideas to the wayside without outright dismissing them. This is what Hesselberg means.


The Agile Works has further explored the reason working on too many projects can be detrimental to the product development progress, in our other post, available to read for free at the following hyperlink: How to Use WIP Limits For Your Own Good

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Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.


He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.


The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.


To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com

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