May  2011     Edition 71
Thinking about Balance

We often see issues (HeadScratchers) around Balance

, such as the balance of time, (e.g. work life and personal life, or project scope vs time); or the balance of resources, (e.g. headcount vs workload); or the balance of $'s, (e.g. budget vs initiatives, or growth vs investment).

Unfortunately, balance is rarely achieved.

Take a look at time. In any given day or week, most people have varied demands on their time, from both the home and the office. So although you might be able to "balance" that on one day, the next day, as demands change, that same "balance" would most likely become imbalanced. The same result occurs for resources. For example, headcount resources are usually determined during the budget planning cycle by looking at the future initiatives and the $'s available for headcount. Usually, even before the budgeting process is completed, there is a change in the initiatives plan, and so the balance is imbalanced even before it starts. Even if it were balanced, as soon as someone is sick, or quits, or goes on leave, it becomes imbalanced.

Imbalance is the norm!

We tend to focus on the question "how do I get things into balance?", but perhaps the question should be "how do I manage the imbalance?", since it is more prevalent. The problem may not be "how do I balance work life with personal life?", but "how do I deal with, and get things that are important accomplished, given the imbalance of work life and personal life?".

The problem isn't "how do I balance workload with headcount?"

, but "how do I get the workload accomplished with a constant imbalance of workload and headcount?".

In other words

, instead of striving for, and thinking about, a static state, consider striving for, and thinking about, optimizing the ever changing state. In this way, when something changes (and it always does), the change is built into your system as opposed to having to react to the change.

You can extend this strategy to almost anything

, such as planning a trip with schedules (planes are never always on time!), or driving your car (traffic varies), or even having a conversation that doesn't go as expected.

The Takeaway
... Is it possible that if you expect imbalance, and have a process and methodology and thinking with respect to the imbalanced world, as opposed to focusing and striving for a balanced world, then perhaps this will actually result is a simpler, less stressful, and organized world? In other words, the balance is being able to balance the imbalance !

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