Dealing with Bottlenecks

bottlenecksIf you ever attempted to pour water quickly out of a narrow-necked bottle then you can easily see why companies with flat hierarchies (picture a bucket) are quicker in moving projects forward than those with a strict chain of command structure.

Of course, the more money or risk is involved in a process, the better it is to pass through some final approval step before moving to the next phase. However, this way it easily happens that suddenly every single action ends up on one person’s desk for approval. This person, often a project manager or group leader becomes the bottleneck of the process. Even with the best intentions and a flawless work ethic every person has their threshold when due to the pure number or because of problems a backlog of approvals builds up. And now everyone is slowed down.

Such a situation can even be created in groups when one team member does not deliver for whatever reasons. Let’s just say all this person had to do was to take the final report and get it printed, but for some reason that doesn’t happen. Without the final report in hand the client does not release the funds for the next phase and so everyone is bogged down.

The most effective way to avoid getting stuck in either of those two cases is to

  1. define deadlines in combination with
  2. suggesting an alternative course of action

An email to your busy supervision could contain a phrase like this (more…)

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