Slack and Efficiency
Slack is the degree of freedom (free time, for instance) required to effect change.
- If you have to do something new, you can only do it effectively if you have some degree of freedom.
- If you don't have free time and must do something, you'll have to stop what you're doing, thus being ineffective because of context switching.
"Slack is the natural enemy of efficiency and efficiency is the natural enemy of slack." Defined by Tom DeMarco.
- Efficiency, in this case, means you have all resources allocated, for example, all people working 100% of their time.
- If you want to keep everyone busy, you must allow some buffering.
Slack can be perceived as negative in an environment of manic efficiency. It can be seen as laziness or lack of initiative.
Slack can reduce efficiency, but it can increase effectiveness. If you have an excess of time, for instance, you have time to think about the long-term priorities and check if you're on the right trajectory instead of just doing operational tasks.
It allows us to respond to changing circumstances and experiment more.
Too much slack is bad because resources get wasted and people get bored.
- But the absence of slack is a bigger problem than an excess of it.
- Do lack of slack for a long period of time cause burnout?