Don't add to an in-progress milestone ...and other guidelines that seem obvious once you put them into words

Photography of a stone wall running alongside a path. A bright blue sky and bright clouds are visible in the background.

Moving the goal posts during a game carries the risk of the whole co-operation breaking down.

The Thrashing Metaphor

Interrupting work in progress causes "thrashing" – meaning a degraded or crashed state caused by the system being unable to optimise multiple streams of work. Ironically this occurs when, the resources that manage the optimisation of resource-consumption, are themselves over consumed.

Thanks Akbar Zamir for sharing this metaphor with me. I've taken it and run with it. Forgive me if I haven't understood the technical origins exactly. Nonetheless, the model is transferable to my personal system. This first came up when I reached out for help on how to perform at my best even when I have multiple initiatives to focus on at the same time. It's a very useful metaphor and seems to crop up everywhere now that I'm primed.

Anti-dotes to thrashing that have already proved effective:

  • Take baby steps

    Break down tasks to the minimal valuable increment

  • Advance every project you touch before moving on to the next

    Easier said than done but it's one of those suggestions that is so simple and so obvious you know it makes sense. Take a real step forwards with each initiative before switching context again.

    You can see how that plays well with Taking baby steps.

  • Plan, journal and reflect on your own week

    I can't describe this one in the company of agile practitioners without remembering weekly goals, note-taking and weekly retrospectives. It's all good stuff and works for continuous improvement on an individual level too.

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© 2023 Laurence Lord