Throughput is a Dirty Word

Let’s face it, if you know me even a little bit, you probably know about the swearing. Yes, mine. Not proud of it, and not making excuses.

Growing up in a working class town near Chicago was a little like “The Sound of Music” where the hills (which are nonexistent), were alive with the sound of f-bombs!  As well as s-bombs, h-bombs, and the like.  Yet, girls weren’t even allowed to consider using those words. Midwestern girls get thorough helpings of “oh shucky darn, make sure you are polite, be nice, and don’t put anyone else out” and that’s the end of that.

The funny thing is sometimes swear words kind of slip out; other times, I deploy them.  A little swearing provides contrast, sass, a way to break up the monotony of being one-dimensionally nice (this is where at least 3 of you want to reply with advice about “other ways to use my words” and 5 of you are thinking, actually, you’re not that nice!)

Lately I’ve been in a lot of conversations with people in big organizations and it’s really got my sass-meter firing. With that in mind, I’ll try to reign in the language but here’s the one thing that has really started to piss me off and a few ideas of what to do about it.

Stop Talking About Throughput – Unless you are Willing to Make the Basics Good –  we’re not even talking Great!

Leaders, you know who you are.  The constant question in your world is the question of speed: how fast can we do it? What is our throughput? Yes, speed to market is important and the 20th century is over.  Your knowledge-based organization is not a sweatshop or certainly shouldn’t be.

When you pay little to no attention to the fundamentals of good work culture, it shows your team this: you are in it for the short-term and won’t be around in 2 years anyway, so you don’t give a rat’s ass.

But isn’t it okay to let the chariot wobble along on 3 wheels as long as we cross the finish line? And you wonder why turnover and recruiting is such a challenge!

Oh, sweet pea, you are missing the point. What you need to increase speed is a stronger foundation.  All you need to get started is to ask the Googles.

Google studied over 200 of their teams to find the secret sauce of what made some teams high performing and others not so much. They even published the recipe of what set successful teams apart from others and, quite simply, it was 5 key things:

  • Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  • Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
  • Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  • Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  • Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Not sure where to start? Host a conversation with your team using this list as the fuel and listen. Then, agree on what aspects you will implement first.  What can you do if you are not the leader? Be a leader anyway. I double-dog dare you to host a conversation with your team about this and share the results with your boss.

Hot damn, it’s a simple as that.

The Best of Awesomeness! 
I get nothing for these recommendations except the joy of sharing! 

What’s Your Top Workplace Strength? Find out more about the keys to modern day workplace strengths from Forbes here.

The Power of Time Off. At the end of 2017 I took a mini-sabbatical for about 6 weeks and am just dipping back in to work. In this Ted Talk Stefan Sagmeister shares why taking a year off is even better! Catch it here.

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