Real Options versus WIP?

Recently I’ve heard a couple of people say that if you increase WIP, you increase the number of options in the system. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between options and WIP.

Increasing WIP reduces the number of options available from the system.

Consider the following two projects, both of which have five developers who can handle two tasks at a time.

1. In the first project, each developer takes on two tasks each. There are ten tasks in progress. They commit to all ten tasks at time zero.

High WIP2

2. In the second project, all five developers swarm on one task at a time. They commit to each task, one at a time, at times 0, 1, 2, 3, 4,…

Low WIP2

In the first project, they commit up front. In the second project, they defer commitments. In the second project they do not commit early, they wait until they have finished the previous task before committing to the next one.

Of the two projects, the one with lower WIP has more options and hence more value. Stated another way, two projects that deliver the same tasks, the one with lower WIP has more value due to the options it contains that the other does not.

About theitriskmanager

Currently an “engineering performance coach” because “transformation” and “Agile” are now toxic. In the past, “Transformation lead”, “Agile Coach”, “Programme Manager”, “Project Manager”, “Business Analyst”, and “Developer”. Did some stuff with the Agile Community. Put the “Given” into “Given-When-Then”. Discovered “Real Options” View all posts by theitriskmanager

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: