Organise work around the resource, not the problem.

In the world of physical production, it makes sense to organise work in the sequence it needs to happen. For example a shoemaker would probably start with sole material, then the uppers, and finish with the laces… (Apologies to all the shoemakers out there).

In a factory setting, this sort of organisation may require the re-location of work stations so that work flows from step to step over the shortest distance possible. Hence one of the 7 wastes in lean is unnecessary motion.

I’ve seen this carried over into Knowledge work in the way that work is visualised. For example, individual kanban boards for separate projects. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, I guess in some worlds, people only ever work on one project at a time. I’ve never actually seen that though. There’s always some unexpected demand from some forgotten corner. An urgent support issue or another project that needs help with this specific issue.

So does this issue get added to the Project Kanban board? If the answer is No, I can understand that. But I also think it is a mistake.

Looking at your project kanban, how do you prioritise the support request against the agreed project work?

If the answer is “Well you don’t”, then you are lying to yourself… Whatever gets worked on next implies a decision on priority has been made by someone. If this unexpected task, whether worked on or not, is not represented on your visualisation of work – Then you are lying to yourself.

So what’s the answer?

I’m not against project kanban boards, but if you don’t find a way to visualise all work, what’s the point?

So yeah, Organise the work around the resource, not the problem/project. If you want to know how I do this, contact me.