This is the third installment of the series devoted to high WIP. The first one explained the general issues of the high WIP. In the second one, we listed the specific problems typical for software development team. In the last installment of the series, we will look at how high WIP affects the team’s morale.
Until now, we were thinking about the impact of the high WIP on project completion. It seems that delivering it on time may be at risk when the team’s efforts are spread onto too many parallel tasks. Let’s now have a look at the impact of WIP on the team members’ morale.
Accomplishments are what keep us going
Each time we complete a task we get an influx of energy and enthusiasm, and our self-esteem increases considerably.
Eat that frog, Brian Tracy
When WIP is high, every team member is occupied with more than one task during the day. And this means they will complete only a portion of each. So you can forget about the enthusiasm influx related to task completion.
Of course, such a situation is not without impact on the team member’s mental states. Working on one task, you are thinking of another (which is also urgent and important), which leads to stress. When several things are being done at once, usually it is not possible to complete any of them.
Hence the feeling of lack of achievement at the end of a working day: so much work but nothing really done.
Add to this the constant context switching and having to remember things related to both the first and the second task (and perhaps also the third one and the fourth one). It is hard not to feel overwhelmed and not to get frustrated. None of these emotional states helps you work more productively…
What is more, the client is frustrated as well! And so is your boss. And his wife, because she is annoyed when he is getting home and he pays no attention to her new haircut. There’s a storm brewing!
High WIP leads to stress… stress leads to frustration… frustration leads to the dark side.
P.S You will find much more Kanban goodness in my book — “Kanban for your team” 🙂