Making Work Work | Julie Morgenstern

Summary of: Making Work Work: New Strategies for Surviving and Thriving at the O
By: Julie Morgenstern


In ‘Making Work Work,’ Dominica DeGrandis helps readers navigate the complexities of modern work environments and understand how to maximize efficiency and productivity. This book summary introduces strategies such as visual management techniques that aid leaders in selecting the highest-value projects and avoiding task overload. DeGrandis discusses the concept of ‘time theft,’ identifying five thieves—too much work-in-progress, unknown dependencies, unplanned work, conflicting priorities, and neglected work—that hinder team efficiency. By learning to work smarter rather than harder through the use of kanban, flow, and Lean management methods, readers will uncover ways to boost their teams’ productivity.

Boosting Productivity with Effective Workflow Systems

Dominica DeGrandis, the Principal Flow Adviser at Tasktop, identifies a lack of knowledge on maximizing efficiency as a significant issue in the modern workforce. In her book, she offers remedies by creating efficient workflow systems to enhance work visibility and visual management techniques that aid leaders in better management.

Work Smarter, Not More

In her book, DeGrandis identifies five “time thieves” that prevent teams and businesses from reaching their full potential: too much work-in-progress, unknown dependencies, unplanned work, conflicting priorities, and neglected work. By adopting kanban, flow, and Lean management methods, leaders can increase productivity and efficiency, avoiding the trap of constantly taking on new projects and overwhelming their teams. The book emphasizes the importance of selecting high-value opportunities and allocating resources accordingly, rather than pursuing every opportunity that comes along.

Master Workflow with Kanban

Unfinished projects and endless task lists lead to excessive work-in-progress, increasing cycle time and costs. DeGrandis recommends rejecting tasks beyond your capacity and using a kanban board to prioritize. Displaying tasks visually categorize work types making it easier to deprioritize tasks less important tasks and focus on completing important ones. By dividing tasks into “to do,” “doing,” and “done” columns, teams can tackle new work only when they have the capability, reducing cycle time and boosting productivity. Master workflow with the kanban system and deliver projects timely and efficiently.

Eradicating Dependencies in Your Workflow

Dependencies can be detrimental to your productivity in three ways, namely architecture, expertise, and activity. Eliminating dependencies exponentially increases your chances of delivering on time. Creating a dependency matrix is essential to identify dependencies that cause unnecessary delays and eradicate them. Organizing teams around your product rather than projects prevents dependencies and results in a streamlined and efficient product-oriented process.

Dependencies can wreak havoc on your workflow in three distinct ways: architecture, expertise, and activity. When one alteration affects another area of the project, this is called architecture dependency. Meanwhile, expertise dependency arises when someone is waiting for the expertise or guidance of someone else to complete a task. Finally, activity dependency is when delays in one area of the project slow down the overall progress.

Eliminating dependencies increases your chances of delivering on time. Every dependency removed is one-half of the total possible delay combinations removed. Therefore, every dependency eradicated doubles your chances of delivering on time.

To target dependencies, consider creating a dependency matrix to identify where dependencies create costly delays. Creating a simple graph that lists “impactees” and “impactors,” along with dependencies, can help you understand which dependencies are responsible for costly delays.

Finally, by organizing teams around creating your product instead of projects, you can prevent dependencies altogether. This approach ensures that the people who create your product are consistently involved, leading to a streamlined and efficient product-oriented process.

Boost Productivity with Pomodoro Method

To increase productivity, track the ratio of unplanned to planned work and utilize the Pomodoro technique of breaking work into 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks in between. The more time spent on unplanned work, the less value is created, so it’s essential to prioritize and minimize distractions to effectively use time.

Prioritizing for Success

Conflicting priorities can obstruct workflow and increase unfinished work. DeGrandis suggests adding an “options” column to your kanban board and moving the most valuable projects to the to-do column to maximize revenue and reduce costs.

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