(VIDEO) Is Work in Process Sinking Your Productivity?

Knowledge work is invisible. It’s inside your head, or buried in emails and files. That’s the biggest problem you face when you’re trying to be more efficient in the business office. There’s no visual cue when projects and tasks are getting backed up and tanking your productivity. (Unlike, say, manufacturing, where you can see the parts and the assembly right in front of you. It’s pretty easy to tell when things are going wrong.)

So I created this video to help you see exactly what happens when you have too much work in process (WIP), and how a tool called visual management helps solve the problem. Have you ever tried to fill a funnel too fast—think milk in the kitchen or gasoline in the garage—and wound up with a mess?

Have you ever tried to fill a funnel too fast and wound up with a mess? The same thing happens in the business office.

The same thing happens in the business office. Customers, vendors, and our own leadership push us to start new tasks when other tasks are stalled, leading us to overfill the queue and spend all our time tracking and facilitating projects in progress instead of increasing throughput of our product.

But visual management can help you nip that habit in the bud. Believe it or not, you really can stop overfilling the work funnel. It’s not about disappointing your customers or your boss—it’s about implementing repeatable processes shared across your organization that become good habits.

Do you recognize yourself or your organization when you watch this video? If you do, be sure to share your comments! And if you have questions about visual management or WIP that you’d like me to address on the blog, you can submit those in the box on the right.