All Work Is Not Created Equal – Work Smarter

There is urgent work and then there is important work. Are your conversations with your co-workers or subordinates centered primarily on when something is going to be done, if it is done yet or how much effort something is going to take and medium or high efforts are shunned. Then maybe the outcome of all your hustle and hurry will be low-value unimportant work.

What’s a smart way to differentiate demands on you or your business? There is demand on our time and effort from value and failure. John Seddon described value demand as work we do for the customer and failure demand as work we must redo or failed to do properly for the customer. He says that one of the fundamental issues with how a lot of service organizations organize work, is that they treat all demand as units of production. In other words, all work is work to be done. He describes a smarter way of organizing demand by breaking it into categories of value demand and failure demand. The classic call center story he tells, shows how banks in the 80’s introduced call centers that generated more failure demand and resulted in the need to build additional call centers to handle the extra traffic. The failure demand was different phone operators passing a customer from one department to another where the customer would have to describe his problem to the first operator, be transferred, then describe the problem all over again, then be transferred again and so on. The call centers were creating more work and it had nothing to do with serving the customer. So costs went up.

If you are treating all work as work to be done without thinking about it any further, then you might be hitting capacity in your system when it could hold more if you fixed the failure demand. By designing your system to reduce failure demand capacity opens up and you are able to flow more value.

Michael Gerber in his E-Myth book talks about the importance of working on your job, not just working in your job.


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