BATCH vs. SINGLE PIECE FLOW....IN THE MIND
It was an annoying task. Seemingly simple, but I've avoided it all week. As such, it sat there, as unprocessed "inventory" that could be done and helpful to others. But I just kept avoiding it.
I finally sat down and got it done this morning. And realized in it was a principle I know about but haven't applied to this corner of effectiveness.
In the Lean Community, we rail against the "batch and queue" model of production, promoting instead the virtues of "single piece flow." It is correct to do so. Yet how deeply do we apply this passion??
I viewed this task as a "batch," which in fact it was. The single task actually involved multiple steps to get done. Look up this amount. Speak with that person. Get this form signed off. Update a database. Confirm entry. Check the accuracy. Inform the requestor the task was complete.
Yet, I listed the task (and, more importantly, though of it) as a single event. And this "batching" of the task blocked the flow of task.
David Allen in his most excellent book "Getting Things Done" describes the solution to this blockage this way:
"Now write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward. If you had nothing else to do in your life but get closure on this, where would you go right now, and what visible action would you take?"
Note the Lean principles here. Write it down. Make it actionable. Do it now. Be visible.
I did this. It got done in 8 minutes. A batch that stuck on my back all week took a mere 8 minutes to complete. Once I started thinking about it.
The Batch turns into flow. And gets done, adding value.