Maximizing your organization's human capacity to get things done doesn't have to be complicated. It fact, it's pretty much common sense.
Note that I'm NOT talking about increasing capacity. That's easy. Just hire more people or pay for contractors. I'm talking about maximizing the resources you already have.
To start, there are two fundamental principles at play for maximizing your resources:
Increase value focus
In other words, if your resources are working on the right stuff at peak performance, you're operating at optimal capacity. It's as simple as that.
Now the trick is how to achieve that.
For guidance, it pays to look at high-performing, resource-savvy organizations. From studies I've been involved with, I've found that such organizations tend to observe seven distinct practices that increase both value-focus and performance.
Prioritize all work - All work should be categorized and prioritized in the context of overall value to the organization. Otherwise, precious time could be spent on lower value activities. Also note that priority is methodology agnostic.
Eliminate waste -This includes excess approvals when checklists would suffice; redundant process steps; extraneous data on forms; excessive documentation that nobody will read; capturing data that nobody is using; and more.
Clarify goals - If people aren't clear on the organization's goals and priorities, then their interests may not be aligned with value. Always reinforce goals as opposed to "tasks." Better yet, engage them in strategizing on how to achieve the goals.
Align people with their strengths - People perform best when they're able to leverage their primary strengths toward an interesting challenge. A strength mismatch will create frustration, while a lack of challenge will create apathy. This is the concept behind the Flow principle.
Reduce multitasking - It's been proven that multitasking decreases productivity. Encourage people to schedule "downtime" to focus, and avoid diluting productivity with multiple concurrent initiatives.
Enable with tools and training - Even the most talented, motivated people will struggle without the proper tools and training to do their job effectively. Skimping here is like burdening your people with a heavy backpack and expecting them to run at peak performance.
Institute continuous resource planning - Resource planning looks at work in the context of three variables: supply, demand, and priority. The goal is to meet demand with supply in priority order, so that if any work gets bumped, it'll be the lower priority activities. Regular, ongoing resource planning ensures that people are always aligned with value, and that they aren't overloaded beyond their capacity.
Collectively, these practices can drive value-focused performance, while also fostering a positive, inspiring culture. Resource-savvy organizations that have adopted them have seen a boost in productivity, employee retention, and customer satisfaction. Best of all, they've gone from reactive to proactive.
I’d venture to say they've also taken to heart the wise words of Albert Einstein:
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn.