I have said this before: many organizations have far more good ideas than they have the resources to execute those ideas. People and organizations just don't know how to say "no" to those interesting ideas and attempt to run them anyway.
I was listening to a recent Harvard Business IdeaCast and my ears perked up when they started talking about multi-loading (multitasking?), so I had to rewind and listen more intently. Breaking Free from the Acceleration Trap is an interview with Heike Bruch, in relation to the HBR article, The Acceleration Trap from the April 2010 issue.
Acceleration, from the discussion, is the problem of having more and more going on in a business. And if the business isn't growing to accommodate that more-and-more, then it's going to break down. The engine is constantly running harder and harder in the attempt to keep up. The discussion and the article categorize types of acceleration into three buckets to give some structure to how one might go about decelerating.
- Over-loading: doing too much with their capacity
- Multi-loading: too many different things at the same time (priorities / focus)
- Perpetual loading: loaded all the time with no room for regeneration / relaxation (burnout)
How do you overcome these traps? In short: stop doing so much! Bruch gave an example where a company had a "reverse idea generation" concept, where they asked for projects that should be canceled in order to free up resources to focus on the higher-value projects and ideas. This sounds very familiar to the concept in Critical Chain Project Management implementations where the number of active projects needs to be reduced so that the remaining projects receive focus and finish even faster. Another options for organizations that see themselves perpetually loaded is to explicitly create time and mechanisms for stepping back and reflecting, instead of being in go-go-go mode 100% of the time.
[Photo: "Drain Clog Waiting to Happen" by teresia]