Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Lean Features
William A. Levinson
Quality and manufacturing professionals are in the best position to eradicate inflationary waste
Mark Graban
Focus on psychological safety instead
Donald J. Wheeler
What does this ratio tell us?
Matthew M. Lowe
Take this opportunity to prepare for the future
Chandrakant Isi
DFM reduces manufacturing complexity, leading to lower costs and higher quality

More Features

Lean News
Embrace mistakes as valuable opportunities for improvement
Introducing solutions to improve production performance
Helping organizations improve quality and performance
Quality doesn’t have to sacrifice efficiency
Weighing supply and customer satisfaction
Specifically designed for defense and aerospace CNC machining and manufacturing
From excess inventory and nonvalue work to $2 million in cost savings
Tactics aim to improve job quality and retain a high-performing workforce
Sept. 28–29, 2022, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA

More News

Jim Benson

Lean

Dealing With Cans of Worms

Limiting work in progress allows you to handle surprises in the workload

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 16:20

We are all cursed with “surprises” at work. We come in, sit down, get ready for the day. We select a task to start on, and about halfway through, it explodes on us. The seemingly simple task now has 30 subtasks all lined up, ready to destroy our day.

This is stressful. Since we’re likely already overloaded, this new surprise just adds more work to the day and delay to our backlog.

However, if we’ve limited our work in progress (WIP), we look at these “cans of worms” a little differently. They still might be annoying, but they aren’t quite so stressful. We understand that, like it or not, the amount of work necessary to get this task done has increased, and we can adjust. The slack we’ve created in our schedule and our work by limiting WIP allows us to adjust gracefully (it’s still OK to gripe) and plow through the extra work.

First published April 18, 2016, on the Personal Kanban blog.

Discuss

About The Author

Jim Benson’s picture

Jim Benson

Jim Benson is the creator and co-author (with Tonianne DeMaria) of the best seller Personal Kanban (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2011) winner of the Shingo Research and Publication Award, 2013. His other books include Why Limit WIP (Modus Cooperandi, 2014), Why Plans Fail (Modus Cooperandi, 2014), and Beyond Agile (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2013). He is a winner of the Shingo Award for Excellence in Lean Thinking, and the Brickell Key Award. Benson and DeMaria teach online at Modus Institute and consult regularly, helping clients in all verticals create working systems. Benson regularly keynotes conferences, focusing on making work rewarding and humane.