lunes, 26 de junio de 2006

Peopleware (Parte II)

Continuando con mi humilde selección de lo más resaltante de Peopleware, aquí esta lo correspondiente a la segunda parte del libro. Revisen también el post anterior.

PART II

Not all work roles require that you attain a state of flow in order to be productive, but for anyone involved in engineering, design, development, writing, or like tasks, flow is a must. These are high-momentum tasks. It's only when you're in flow that the work goes well.

Unfortunately, you can't turn on flow like a switch. It takes a slow descent into the subject, requiring fifteen minutes or more of concentration before the state is locked in. During this immersion period, you are particularly sensitive to noise and interruption. A disruptive environment can make it difficult or impossible to attain flow.

If the average incoming phone call takes five minutes and your reimmersion period is fifteen minutes, the total cost of that call inflow time (work time) lost is twenty minutes. A dozen phone calls use up half a day. A dozen other interruptions and the rest of the work day is gone. This is what guarantees, "You never get anything done around here between 9 and 5."

If you're a manager, you may be relatively unsympathetic to the frustrations of being in no-flow. After all, you do most of your own work in interrupt mode -that's management- but the people who work for you need to get into flow. Anything that keeps them from it will reduce their effectiveness and the satisfaction they take in their work. It will also increase the cost of getting the work done.

What matters is not the amount of time you're present, but the amount of time that you're -working at full potential. An hour in flow really accomplishes something, but ten six-minute work periods sandwiched between eleven interruptions won't accomplish anything.

Management, at its best, should make sure there is enough space, enough quiet, and enough ways to ensure privacy so that people can create their own sensible workspace. Uniformity has no place in this view. You have to grin and bear it when people put up odd pictures or leave their desks a mess or move the furniture around or merge their offices. When they've got it just the way they want it, they'll be able to put it out of their minds entirely and get on with the work.

We are trained to accept windowless office space as inevitable. The company would love for every one of us to have a window, we hear, but that just isn't realistic. Sure it is. There is a perfect proof that sufficient windows can be built into a space without excessive cost. The existence proof is the hotel, any hotel. You can't even imagine being shown a hotel room with no window. You wouldn't stand for it. (And this is for a space you're only going to sleep in.) So hotels are constructed with lots of windows.

Even if there is a higher cost per worker to house people in the more agreeable space, the added expense is likely to make good sense because of the savings it provides in other areas. The real problem is that the cost is in a highly visible category (space and services), while the offsetting advantage is in poorly measured and therefore invisible categories (increased productivity and reduced turnover).


Copyright © 1999, 1987 by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister.

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