Work Activity Management: The story of incremental, continuous innovation

Ever since man made the wheel, he is constantly innovating. At times, he produces breakthrough disruptive innovations that completely change human behaviour for the better. We cannot imagine a world without computers or electricity or motor vehicles or internet today. Honestly, most of us would prefer being eaten up by dinosaurs rather than live a life without the above-mentioned. But such innovations only come far and few in the evolutionary timeline of humans. Nevertheless, man is constantly innovating! And his efforts produce incremental innovations.

A tweak here, an addition there and a little mix-up from here and there – that is how incremental innovation works. It is an attitude towards perfection. Each man-made product and concept has a honeymoon period till which it seems to be the pinnacle of human thought. And when the clock ticks by, tiny imperfections seem to surface to visibility and pose a challenge to the innovators to raise the bar higher. Perfection is unattainable in the practical sense and hence this incremental innovation will always be an advancement of human thought. What we are now is largely due to this constant pursuit towards perfection in the route of incremental innovation.

Work Activity Management (WAM) is one such incremental innovation in achieving operational excellence. Its predecessor is the concept of Project Management. Of course, Project Management has not become extinct as the dinosaurs. There is a lot of advancement happening in the domain of Project Management tools too. We live in a period where the boundaries are undefined and somewhere somehow the baton is being passed from Project Management to Work Activity Management. What is the difference between the two in organizational terms?

Project Management is the discipline of organizing and managing limited resources to achieve completion of a project within pre-determined time, scope and cost constraints. Sounds clear! What begets the need for an advanced thought viz. Work Activity Management? Organizations have achieved the efficiency of managing individual projects but they just realized that they are working on numerous projects simultaneously and it is becoming harder to track overlapping dependencies, resource-sharing and delegation of tasks at such magnitudes. Hence they wanted to make the scope of the concept bigger. Thus came Work Activity Management!

The Work Activity Management is the process of creating delegating and tracking the progress of multiple tasks to completion. This becomes a necessity because the workplace is constantly evolving and growing. Organizations grow internally in employee numbers and also externally through multiple locations and virtual/ remote employees etc. They need a courier to pass messages from one to another across the organization. They need a reminder to alert when a specific task is due. They need a trace of tasks to track accountability and activity history.

How does it justify itself as an incremental innovation?
Well, the answer to this question is a simple one-to-many function. Efficiency is achieved by identifying and then aligning collaboratively, the activities performed by the individuals to a group level, which is in-line with the organizational objectives. Research proves, activities performed as a group maximizes the organizational productivity. This procedure allows for the efficiency to be achieved one individual, one team/group at a time, operating on a project which is replicated organization-wide across all projects. Through this process you achieve high performing individuals, group/teams and an entire organization. The ecosystem is a complicated, web interwoven by multiple projects with inter-dependencies. It necessitates a smart system that can intuitively accommodate all these parameters.

What’s the answer to the last question?
All this is fine and sounds a mandatory shift for a large organization. But is it necessarily important for a small organization to adopt WAM right now or can it just be contempt sticking to Project Management tools? This is a judgemental answer. Our argument is this. If you can achieve operational excellence through Work Activity Management even when you are small, imagine the head-start you get against big companies! Investment in such systems should be a one-time move, both in terms of money and time. Make it wisely.

Does not matter if you are an elephant or a mouse, if the universe is evolving, the species that adapts and evolves with the world survives and prospers. The world is evolving. Your move!

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