Principles of Dynamic Work Design

At ShiftGear We Understand the
Science of Highly Productive Work

For more than two decades, we have been generating better results in organizations large and small by asking, “Why did that work? What is the principle behind the success?” We quickly moved off the shop floor. We branched out from manufacturing and physical work early on and began asking the same questions about improvements in knowledge and creative work. We compared our practice and study against the best-known science of work design – from Fredrik Taylor’s Scientific Management in 1911, through Deming and Taichi Ohno, including the latest cognitive and organizational science.


The Four Principles that Raise the Game…

20 years of research, consulting, and collaboration has led to four principles that raise the game on how to design and improve work, no matter what type of work it may be. ShiftGear’s approach to helping every client increase performance is rooted in these four principles:

SG-fav Align and Reconcile Intent and Activity

Every organization starts with the same challenge: Get crystal clear on the vision, mission, and targets, and then optimize the set of activities needed to accomplish those targets. In the end, the only resource we have to deploy is human activity. ShiftGear helps you design your work so every activity is tied together to meet the targets.

SG-fav Connect the Human Chain Through Triggers and Checks

Even in the largest, most complex organizations, work moves from person-to-person, not function-to-function or computer-to-computer.  The research is clear, without pre-specified rules, people usually wait too long to ask for help and leaders don’t check in frequently enough. Good work design incorporates triggers and checks that signal teams and managers to meet to resolve ambiguity and fix problems, often in real time.

SG-fav Structured Problem-Solving and Creativity

We all “jump to solutions” because we are born problem solvers. As our experience grows we rely more and more on our intuition. But, the real problem remains unarticulated and causes the solutions to miss the mark, feeling like serial initiatives that never really get the job done. Structured problem solving methods mitigates our inherent desire to ‘jump to solutions’ and encourages us to do a proper analysis using both data and investigation. Similarly, tackling ill-defined challenges like creative work is best accomplished within a structure to ensure that the innovation stays on track and within scope.

SG-fav Optimal Challenge

Systems don’t work if they have too little or too much work in them. Putting the right amount of stress into the work system helps surface problems while allowing enough time to resolve them.  Too little work and problems remain hidden, too much work and unresolved problems clog the system.

Static Design breaks you into pieces.
Dynamic Design weaves you into an integrated system.