The Nature of Work


Work is activity that advances the state of that which receives your focus (assembly of equipment, writing a proposal, etc.) toward some goal/objective.

Whether you are manufacturing equipment or providing a service you are converting inputs to outputs.

The conversion (e.g. progression from input to output) that takes place adds value.

In a sense, all work we do is basically the same. We start each day by attending to our fixed –time events and then, in between these events, we then turn to tasks on our to-do list.  This covers 100% of all work.

Three  things that characterize work are the skill required, the timing in the case of events and the sequencing in the case of tasks.

The happy scenario In respect of events is that they take place at their designated times, that they  last no longer than planned and that the objectives of these events are achieved.

With respect to To-Do tasks it’s a bit different. To-Do tasks that require your attention and action need to be organized.  An automated resource allocation environment can post tasks to your InTray – your objective becomes to perform these tasks and clear out your InTray.

Some tasks have higher priorities, some take very little time, others take longer and in the absence of tags at tasks that indicate a priority, decisions relating to the order of performance of tasks are best left to individual workers.  Workers are soon to realize that advancing one long term task and completing a few short duration tasks is better than getting bogged down on a single long term task.

Some tasks are pre-cursors to other tasks that need to be performed by others. This implies collaboration and  cooperation across staff in respect of the performance of work.

Software systems are required to post the right tasks to the right people at the right time.

Problems arise as and when backlogs arise and, here, supervisors need to step in and balance tasks across workers.  Leveling and balancing can in some cases be automated.

What is the best environment for carrying out work?

This is an important question because it has an impact on productivity and customer satisfaction.

Anyone who has used an agenda book knows the answer to this question.  It follows that an electronic version of an agenda book  should be fine (i.e. a split screen with a calendar on one side and a to-do list on the other side), all other things being taken into consideration.

So much for complex applications where users are required to navigate up/down menus and spend days/weeks learning how to run these applications.

The designers of unnecessarily complicated work management systems have built up for themselves a wide range of consulting services to help customers learn how to use and support the software. They offer customization services where simple user-level drag and drop approach to map building would be sufficient. The result of all of this is increased complexity, increased costs and decreased employee satisfaction.

It does not have to be this way.

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2017 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
This entry was posted in Automated Resource Allocation, Operational Planning, Productivity Improvement. Bookmark the permalink.

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