wonder-woman-552109_1280I was in a planning session recently when one of the participants, partially in jest, declared he wanted to request two weeks for certain work because he knew the work would be done in one week and he would look like a hero.

That’s Bulk thinking, and in a Bulk thinking world he is right. Bulk thinking rewards the under-promise and over-deliver approach to work. That only works (sometimes) when you are the whole show.

When you are a player on a Lean project team, here is what happens when you deliberately overstate how long work will take. First, you will have periods of time when you run out of work. You will have to either 1) redeploy your team and break the momentum you have on the project, 2) bench your team and risk losing players to other projects, or 3) make work up for them that provides no value thereby losing money.

Why are you faced with three unrewarding possibilities when you overstate the time required for work on Lean projects? A well developed plan built collaboratively between team members will balance the work load of the various team members. Accuracy matters because finishing work in one part of the project earlier than agreed upon means having to stop before the next area of work is available to you.

And none of the three actions listed above makes you look like a hero in a Lean thinking world.