Optimizing work batch size
I've been playing Carcassonne a lot with my girlfriend recently. It's a boardgame about building cities, roads and farms, and each completed "project" earns you some amount of points. The twist is that there's only a limited number of tiles, and once all tiles are used, the game is over unfinished projects are discarded.
The first couple of playthroughs I tried to maximize my score by increasing the number of projects I actively had going. I'd start a new city or road whenever I could, thinking that the multipliers you sometimes get would pay off in the end. Boy was I wrong.
Where I'm from, we have multiple sayings for this approach. "Having too many irons in the fire" or "dancing on too many parties". I was too busy starting new projects instead of making actual progress.
A far better approach is to finish projects early, earning less points, but with a greater certainty that they will pay off. With every project you start, the likelyhood of the other projects paying off decreases.
Keeping batch sizes small was a key concept of the lean manufacturing movement in the 1980s, and has since been adopted by the DevOps movement for the IT industry. If you want to learn more about this topic, you should check out The DevOps Handbook. It goes well beyond the basics of making IT processes more productive and efficient.
After realizing that small batch sizes are the key to success, I haven't lost a game of Carcassonne since. I hope you're not reading this, honey.🤭
This is post 068 of #100DaysToOffload.