Why is it hard to know exactly what to do every day?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what to do today, the optimal way to spend your day!
If you were sure what was the most important stuff to do, you feel confident and secure.

Let’s imagine for a second that it is possible to know exactly what to do. How would that work? Why is it good for the company?
In order to find the most important task for you to do today, we would need to know exactly what work is ahead of us. But we would not only need to know your work, we would need to know the work for everyone, in all projects that you work with. Why is that?

Well your work will be delivered to someone else, lets say you make CAD models and drawings, just because you hit save on the computer does not mean that we instantly have parts assembled and tested… Your drawings need to be sourced, purchased, manufactured and assembled. They also need to be evaluated together with other parts and probably tweaked a little before approved.
If we shall calculate the optimal work for you today, we need to know the whole picture, what’s in it for the company?

The company you work for needs to release new products to the market, and the faster they hit the market, the faster the revenue from the new product will appear. This revenue is the reason your company invests in you and all other R&D activities. Until sale starts and real money from delighted customers arrive, none of your work has any real value.
So in order to find what you need to do today to bring the product to market in the fastest way, you need to look at the start of sales date. From this date you need to look backwards in time to understand all the work that everyone needs to do to minimize the lead-time from today to start of sales. And as you work in many projects and have other tasks to do as well, the planning needs to be extremely detailed.

There are also other unknowns in the equation. We change the work in the project, as we learn more about the product. Therefore we need to recalculate the fastest way to start of sales, each time we update the actual work or we find new tasks we need to do in order to deliver. Sometimes experiments and prototypes does not work as well as expected, then we need to redesign and retest until we get a good enough result. This constant flux in activities will make the plan a living thing that does not look the same for more than minutes at a time.

How on earth are we going to manage this complexity? Well today we don´t and we are never really close to deliver on time either (unless we work on non complicated small stuff). It would be great to get help to track everything that happens for all engineers at the same time, and to guide you and all your coworkers to a fast delivery. It is actually possible.

What we humans are really bad at, is keeping many things in the head at the same time, like thousands of tasks performed by a large R&D team. Computers on the other hand are really good at this. But computers need data and updates, todays tools are not designed to interact with all people in the R&D team simultaneous, they are designed for interacting with one project manager entering a plan and follow progress on a high level. Add more than 600 tasks into a plan and you understand my point:-)

PLAYBOOK is designed to work with both the high level plan that project managers create, but more importantly it’s designed to interact with you! We take a leap of faith and assign you the task of entering a plan for your work that your are an expert on. Your coworkers do the same and this results in a very detailed plan. You only maintain your plan for 2 minutes a day, logging in and reporting today’s progress and adding new stuff you have learned that needs to be done. The software keeps track of the team’s work and like a virtual project manger calculates, for each task, how long time you have to complete it before it becomes critical. Critical means that the task decides the start of sales date. If your critical task is a week late, the project will deliver a week late.

As you will see the number of days before your non-critical task become critical, you have a really good way to predict and plan your work. Let’s say you would like to go to an exhibition for a day.
If you don’t know, you just go, no one else will know anyway.
If you know you have critical tasks, you may choose to do them first to avoid delaying the start of sales.
If you have three days before any tasks get critical, you could attend the exhibition with a good conscience.

It’s not easy to know exactly what to do every day. But if you take help and invest the time to manage your personal plan in PLAYBOOK, the gain is clear. No one will ask the impossible from you, all the work is clear and visible for both managers and coworkers. If you are a manager, you could spend time looking ahead for peaks in work for resources, and try to act before a queue starts building.

Do things as simple as they can be done, make plans visible and trust people to do the right thing! You will not regret it!

Want to know more?