Dec 10 – Reduce batch size – an effective way to improve efficiency


Maybe this will come as surprise: Smaller batches are normally improving overall efficiency!

We assume that longer periods of uninterrupted work, created by large batches, is more efficient. Yes, this is often true for individuals or local teams, but often not for the larger system that they operate in. Larger batches often comes at the expense of longer cycle times. Longer cycle time reduces feedback. Less feedback increases risk of working on the wrong thing. Often it also leads to more rework. Longer cycle times often increases the perceived need of status updates. This generates additional non-value adding work in status reporting and additional planning.

An additional benefit of reducing batch size is that it can help reduce unwanted variability in our system. Reduced unwanted variability will reduce the need for buffers. Reduced buffers tend increase feedback. Reduced buffers also means less work is needed to manage the buffers.

Reducing batch size also have the added benefit of increasing motivation and urgency. Faster feedback is energizing. Rapid feedback supplies the positive reinforcement of process, and fast positive reinforcement increases motivation. When working with smaller batches you are more often checking your progress and this increases urgency and focus. With larger batches it is easier to think that you will make up for lost time later. And of cause this is almost never the case.

This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar.  So be sure to check back every day!

DISCLAIMER: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this post and blog in any way.

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