Are you working long? My column, Management Myth 10: I can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work is posted today.
People who work long hours think they also work hard. They are. But they are often not working smart. If you have a lot to do, you want to work smart, not just hard and long. What do you do if you have a manager who believes this myth?
- Send the manager a copy of the column.
- Run an experiment and gather some data. It’s difficult to argue with numbers. Here’s how I did it back in my manager days:
- Run two weeks of 40 hours. We all agreed we would work no more than 40 hours. We policed ourselves. We measured our output in terms of features. We counted the equivalent of story-points. We also measured our Fault Feedback Ratio (number of bad fixes to total number of fixes).
- Run two weeks of the number of hours you want. You want 60 hours, fine.
- Choose the number of hours. Police yourselves. Everyone puts in the same number of hours. Measure your story-points. Measure your Fault Feedback Ratio.
- Run two weeks of 40 hours. Everyone puts in 40 hours. Report on how easy/difficult this is. Measure your story-points. Also measure your Fault Feedback Ratio.
- I tried to do another experiment of 30 hours, but I couldn’t get people to leave at 30 hours. I couldn’t leave at 30 hours. The experiment failed. We all met during the second day, had a big laugh, and said, “Can we do 35 hours this week?” We barely met 35 hours. We could not police ourselves to leave on time. We all stayed at work until we were there darn close to 40 hours that week and the following week. If you do this, make sure to measure your story points, and fault feedback ratio.
- Now, compare your results, recognizing that fault feedback ratio is a lagging indicator, especially if you work in two-week iterations.
- If you work in kanban/flow, use cumulative flow and see if your average time to complete a feature goes up or down depending on the time you spend at work. I am curious. Track your fault feedback ratio.
Your data will tell you more than your gut will. You want evidence for your beliefs.
Remember that our brains get tired. Even if we move around and provide our brains oxygen, water, and a little food now and then, it’s not enough. Our brains need a break.
You and I have had our best ideas in the shower, in our dreams, while talking with others, while not working. There’s a reason for that. There’s a reason that after I draft an article I let it sit for a while. If I let my subconscious work on it for a while, and I’m fresh, I can do a much better job when I return to it.
Don’t just work long. Work smart.