Going beyond capacity is problematic from both a personal and a productivity point of view. At the personal level, overloading a person or team will often increase the frustration of the people involved. Although it may motivate some people to work harder in the short term, it will cause burnout in the long term, and it may even motivate people to give up and leave because the situation seems hopeless to them. From a productivity point of view, overloading causes multitasking, which increases overall overhead. We can keep workloads within capacity by:
- Working on small batches. Having small batches of work enables us to focus on getting the small batch done and then move on to the next small batch.
- Having properly formed teams. Teams that are cross-functional and sufficiently staffed increase our ability to keep workload within capacity because it reduces dependencies on others. The more dependencies we have, the less predictable our work becomes and therefore is harder to organize.
- Take a flow perspective. By looking at the overall workflow we are part of, we can identify where we are over capacity by looking for bottlenecks where work is queuing up. We can then adjust our WoW to alleviate the bottleneck, perhaps by shifting people from one activity to another where we need more capacity, or improving our approach to the activity where we have the bottleneck. Our aim, of course, is to optimize flow across the entire value stream that we are part of, not to just locally optimize our own workflow.
- Use a pull system. One of the advantages of pulling work when we are ready is that we can manage our own workload level.