The Bottleneck Label

by Chance Smith

A friend (designer and big-brain thinker) and I talked about the craft and setting constraints. David says…

I see teams constantly fighting the “we’re the biggest bottleneck” vibe, which ain’t great for a team.

What if you are labeled a bottleneck?

You or your team being labeled as the “bottleneck” makes me think of three concepts.

1. Value Pricing

Do the math on the outcomes first, not the resources put into it. Help everyone do the Hard Math to guarantee the result desired.

Hard Math = the cost of getting the work done right, wrong, and not at all. It’s “hard” because not everyone is willing to share all the numbers. Yet it has to make business sense to do the work at all.

2. Get credit for your wins

So your team can be uplifted and supported, document your wins. Also, your saved time, money, and layoffs. You’re sometimes helping the other departments, but you’re not getting credit for it. I’ve got a couple of stories I could tell later about this topic.

“Yes, we’re the bottlenecks that just saved our team 2.3M this quarter, all by asking real-users questions about what features we thought we needed.” - Your Team + snark :smile:

3. Set expectations with an Anchor Price

Anchor Price = giving an initial high price, making lower prices appear more attractive by comparison.

Uncle Bob (TDD + Java educator) says an estimate is never a date — always a range of dates. Give three estimates and then average them: best, most likely, and worst.

Not that we should balloon or pad our estimates, but if we’re all too often missing the deadline, we’ll never exceed expectations.

So, the point is

You either have good reasons for being the bottleneck, need help, or need better processes. You might have to sell yourself and the work you do a bit differently. Help give your team a fresh perspective by discussing your value, getting the credit you deserve, and realistic expectations.

You want to create a Win-Win-Win, an environment that is good for you, your team, and your customers.

How have you guys mitigated getting the “bottleneck” label? Let me know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or by email.