To Maximize Execution, Manage Workflow

My first challenge for 2023 is guiding a fast-growth scaleup to plan and manage an ambitious two-year, $4M+ tech development project. We are on the right track in segmenting our approach as 90-day sprints. Then this article appeared on my LI timeline and provoked me to think deeper:

chrisgagne.com

1. The plan should not detail the tasks but instead the workflow. Workflow focuses on the repeatable activities to complete a task, not the task itself. Each workflow has an input, a transformation, and an output. By managing workflows, you create a rhythm easier to control than a schedule.

2. Aim to make workflows as independent as possible to avoid cascading delays. Break dependencies.

3. Identify key constraints and manage them. Also, design to meet your constraints.

4. Focus on shipping at a regular rate. Adopt Cash Flow thinking: what is the cost of a delay?

5. Timebox, don’t scope-box: don’t ask “how long will this take”. Instead, ask, “what can be done by this date”.

6. Assume that things will not progress according to plan. The main problem with a schedule is that it does not adapt quickly to variations, whether in or out of your control. On the other hand, a workflow plan does not need slack because it absorbs variations.

7. A schedule is a guess. Track and understand your hypotheses and assumptions when building the system. Then, use feedback and learning to improve as you move forward.

My biggest ah-ha! in the presentation is to develop a rhythm of shipping. My client’s current plan aims to create that pulse. I want to focus more on workflow and review the milestones for their constraints and dependencies.

I highly recommend taking the time to watch the presentation and read the transcript:

https://chrisgagne.com/1255/mary-poppendiecks-the-tyranny-of-the-plan/

The message is well-aligned with my belief that to succeed in an unpredictable world, you must manage uncertainty and maximize execution.