January 9, 2009

Operating at Optimal Capacity

Filed under: Human Relations — Robert John Ed @ 12:38 am

Notice “optimal.”  It’s important.

There is plain old capacity, which is the absolute maximum amount any one operation, person or organization can handle at a given time.  That usually isn’t the best thing to be doing.  It costs too much.

Exceptions?  Yes.  Machines are good examples.  Some machines are needed to run at capacity because they are the primary constraint of another operation like a factory.

Organizations (more importantly, the people in the organizations) are not machines despite the metaphorical sensibility.  Organizations are built on concepts and leadership, not maximum capacity.  In steps optimal capacity, which is the amount of work that will see the best result for an organization over the long haul.  It’s a difficult concept to grasp for some people who are trained that an idle resource is a wasted resource.  What’s confusing is that idle resources are often a waste, but not always.  As with too many things, it depends.

How do you calculate an optimal capacity for resources that don’t have a manual or levers?  Well, you’ll never hit it exactly, but you can find a range.  The signs of overuse will show and the signs of underuse too.  The idea is to start paying attention to all the resources.  Get the best out of them, not necessarily the most.


1 Comment »

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