Working Smarter vs. Working Harder LO30261

Date: 06/14/03

Replying to LO30237 --

Hello Freaders,

"Economy of effort" reminds me an investigation i did years ago. The
question was how to improve the delivery reliability of a large factory. I
suggested to skip all planning - aimed at producing "economically" - and
let the customers order from the factory directly. Sales and marketing
should only agree on a price and the most important conditions: no
ordering of large series of the same (end)products.

In order to strenghten my case i researched the customers orders of the
past periods and the delivery results. It turned out that we shipped every
week - on average, the mean - the same amount as the customers ordered.
That's no suprise. However, we were unreliable in predicting when an order
would be shipped and some were late, very late. No surprise too. The big
eye-opener - for me - was that the spreading, the "delta", the witdh of
the "bell-shape", over the weeks was almost the same for the customer
order intake as for the deliveries. No amount of planning or rescheduling
- not working harder nor smarter, will change this: any system will
"automatically" tune itself to its surroundings. After about three years
- and trying out every other system of scheduling - i got the opportunity
to implement my ideas and within about six months we had no late
deliveries, no quality problems and people working smart as well as hard.
The only "problem" was that the accounting system couldn't keep up and
announced that we were making large losses. Which we had done for years,
but nobody knew why: we were not selling enough to keep up with the
learning curve. But that's a different story.

I think that you're hinting at a general law: "effort is always
distributed most economically". Perhaps it is a refrasing of the second
law of thermodynamics. Sure, there are local variations, but they'll damp
out, disapear to reappear again as other local variations. On the whole,
the only viable option is to change the system as a whole INCLUDING the
way's of managing, like "Working Smarter vs Working Harder".

Being smart is not that hard, it is the working that is,


>>I have not heard a good suggestion as to what could possibly be the basis
>>for true continuous improvement in work. It needs to be something that is
>>always present in experience, which excludes strategies and relationships
>>and skills. What candidates that are always present could be useful?
>>With this question I hope to start a real inquiry.
>To repeat, my candidate is "economy of effort."


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