Friday, November 28, 2014
Getting Work Done
You have a small job that needs doing. Say the replacement of a fitting in your house or car.
You have a choice of two workers. You think the job should take about an hour. Each of the workmen quotes for the same time, say two hours. But that’s acceptable, it allows for contingency, the almost inevitable exposing of hidden issues, the development of requirement, and more importantly it is a standard figure that all workers quote for this type of task.
One knocks off the work in a hour. Doesn’t tell you she has finished. Doesn’t bother you with the inevitable little difficulties encountered. Just finishes the work and goes home. Great. But you wish she had told you of these things, so while inner workings exposed you could have got a few other things sorted, without the extra cost of a new start. You wish she had shown you so you would know what to expect when problems recur. You wish she had paused to allow review and further improvements.
The other worker keeps you thoroughly informed of every issue, every variation, every achievement. That’s good, it means that while the box is opened up for the fix, other improvements can be done at virtually zero marginal cost. But it is bad too, because it is draining of your own time. And the job itself inevitably takes longer than the first case.
It is obvious and predictable to say the ideal worker should be a blend of the two types. We never have the ideal.