Sequential or parallel work – which is best? – part 2/6 – Can we work exactly in parallel?

When parallel work has been shown so far, it has always been shown as the teams working 100% in parallel, but that is only a depiction to emphasise the parallelism. But in reality, is it always possible to work exactly in parallel? This will be the question for today’s blog post.

We start with distinguishing between work with the traditional I-shaped teams and as in Agile development, with T-shaped teams.

We start look into I-shaped teams, because as always, it is more straightforward.  I-shaped teams are still common in hardware development projects in silo organisations with waterfall way of working, many times with lead time as a constraint for how short a phase can be. Remember that hardware development for a long time also was driven only by Technology push, meaning that time to market was not as important, since the consumers were happy anyway. But, if we consider waterfall way of working and every phase as having a specific I-competence as discussed in earlier blog posts there is only a dependency between the phases, and it will look like this.

This is totally sequential and since our organisation probably has many projects fully in parallel it would look like this.

But, as you understand, no organisation can work in parallel in this way. Because, every phase has its respective I-competence, meaning that every employee in phase B need to wait for phase A to be ready, and so on. And since we always need to work in a certain pattern, the activities need to be done in a certain order, i.e. we cannot put the roof before we have the walls ready when we are building a house. This means that for every point in time, it requires the same competence, which means bottle necks with Mean queues. And as we have stated before, when there is a Mean queue somewhere, it means that there are other queues empty of activities, i.e. employees waiting for activities to do. That means a tremendous lot of waste.

As you already figured out, it is very easy to get rid of the tremendous waste above. Which has already been done with waterfall way of working for decades. And also, in Lean production, so here we have a connection point. That means new insights in tomorrow’s blog post. Welcome.

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