Higher Throughput with Idle People! Discover Archimedes lever!

Limiting work start with the system. Have the leadership that respect idle workers in the system. This is the only way to improve the throughput!

May the wisdom be with you; It takes wisdom to realize that throughout can be improved with idle workers?

You may be wondering how that is possible and how can you achieve that state of hyper performance when we have idle workers in your system? This is the ultimate conundrum of the counter intuitive thinking! Don’t you think so?

Also have the wisdom to realize that if everyone works at their own defined best, your entire organization will run out of money or margins will be at very low level and you won’t be able to survive when market environment changes which is always a constant.

What is the leverage point that you can use to improve the throughput? Which can be like managing Archimedes lever in your system?

“Give me a lever long enough… and single-handed I can move the world,” Archimedes.

Finally, in the knowledge world, we have now thinking, techniques, practices, and tools to discover the leverage point and the long lever to manage and control throughput as needed by the market environment.

Did you get the “wisdom” of the kool-aid Agile frameworks. #agileisacart

Please also check LinkedIn, here


Archimedes is one of my geek heroes. We can find many versions of his alleged lever statement that you wrote above, and I found this page with a nice collection of paraphrases and uses. He didn’t discovered the Lever Law, but the probably made it practical and famous.

There needs to be four elements for the Lever Law to be applied:

  1. Two sources of force, where one source is usually an object with its weight (e.g. the Earth), and the other is either another object with its weight, or some sort of force generator (e.g. Archimedes applying his own arm strength).
  2. A lever, which must be a rigid body with a length in a certain direction long enough to accommodate the two “objects” at some point, usually at its extremes.
  3. A fulcrum, i.e. a fixed point of support and rotation where the lever rests upon, positioned somewhere between the two objects.

We can probably choose the two “objects”, or maybe one of them is mandated and we don’t have that luxury, but we can usually choose the force generator (ourselves, a champion in the company, an inspired leader).

We might have to specify what kind of lever we need, and calculate its length and the minimum resistance needed to handle the magnitude of the forces involved. Perhaps we have to invent it!

All of the above might be necessary, but they are surely not sufficient. The essential here is deciding where the fulcrum should be, and how to establish it firmly to support the forces, in order to provide the leverage effect, which is to multiply the applied force on one end enough to move the intended object on the other end.

That, for me, is where the analogy to TOC is most applicable: Finding the leverage point! But we also have to deal with the other three elements along the way.

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When we stop working we start thinking. It’s usually during the idle time that I might be able to think of better more efficient ways to do my job. That would be my lever.
Although, based on this the leadership may say is actually about the way we utilize the idle time we have. And then they will come up with different ‘initiatives’ to make sure their people are fully utilized on side projects.
That’s also because the need for psychological space or emotional space is paid no attention at all as important factor in our capacity.
Especially that headspace which helps us when we are supposed to build empathy, listen to other people, support each other. This is when we feel really motivated, cared and engaged to do our best.

But what can we do to give it more visibility? What approach usually works for you?


There is the good old saying: Focus on idle work, not idle workers …

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Then again, think about it. When you are idle, it means you are waiting for work. Pertinent work for your Work process to feed/support the constraint. Now, your boss send you on project 25b to help out. So you go.

Then YOUR Work process needs you.

You are stuck with 2 bad choices: you either leave your constraint to starve or leave your new assignment to create chaos for a replacement for what you started.

You are cooked either way.

Better remain idle and play solitaire or watch Netflix … KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN …


What we do in TameFlow is to make the impact of overburden very visible from an economic perspective. That usually gains management attention. Once you have that attention it needs to be directed to answering the key question: what do you do with all that idle time. Short metaphorical reply: it is a goldmine! “So dear manager, be smart on how you use that idle time.” And of course we will suggest ways to do so too.