Monday, January 19, 2009

Productivity Now

The economy is in a bit of a tailspin. Chairman Ben may have his way of helping us. But we can help ourselves. If you wait for the Wizards of Washington to help, you might wait for the wrong basketball team.

How do we get ourselves out of this jam?

We need a simple way of telling if we are productive, if the seemingly "brilliant" ideas are actually useful. And of telling whether this group of people or that or those is productive.

How? Measure productivity by team. The Team is the unit to be measured (not the individual, and not a larger group). There are many reasons to measure by team, but the main one is that only the Team can create enough useful knowledge to create (or produce) a (new) product. 7 people, plus or minus two.

Measure it in short iterations...a week, or two or a month at most.

And ask the Team to improve.

If the Team is not producing enough (say, compared to their cost), disband them and tell each person: "Go join or start another Team." If the same person is on two failing Teams, he probably needs to look elsewhere.

And all those other guys who aren't on the producing teams (or any team), why is it that we need them? What value do they add? (Yes, Virginia, they could join a team doing real work. Since they aren't used to it, we'll give them some time to remember how to do real work.)

So, some Teams can fail. But you will generally find that the Team gets creative and productive. They find something to sell that customers actually want. Even customers now.

To do this well, you have to measure productivity. I know there are lies, damn lies and statistics, but you need a little bit of something to make business decisions.

Translation: What I am recommending is Scrum for the whole business. I would recommend Scrum be in the context of Lean thinking about the whole business (although I did not explain that here at all in this post.)

Get on with it. We have a bunch of people to pull out of this economic cycle. Much as we enjoy Scrum, we didn't get into this just for ourselves.

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