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  • Writer's picturerahulmd

1000 Collars OR 50 Shirts?

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Last week I heard this wonderful story from Raj, who is an ex-colleague from Sabre, which show cased how we need to approach the way we plan our work to maximize value delivered to customers in any period of time.

The story went like this.

There was this small shirt manufacturer. The owner who was responsible for business development got this order from a client for 1000 shirts. All excited, the owner called the factory manager and told him that he go this order, gave the details of the order and asked the manager to start work on the order.

2 days later, the owner gets a call from factory manager, requesting the owner to release funds to procure more fabric.

The owner asked the factory manager what happened to the existing fabric which must have been enough for at least 50 shirts. The factory manager said that he used all the available fabric to stitch 1000 collars, since the manpower was most efficiently deployed when they were completing one task at a time.

Now he needed a LOT more fabric to complete the order.

I narrated this story to my 21 year old son last week over a glass of home brewed kombucha and asked him how he would have approached it. He said that he would have stitched 50 shirts, delivered it to the customer, gotten paid for the 50 shirts and used the money to buy more fabric and continued the cycle.

In an agile environment, you really are trying to maximize the value delivered to customers in every sprint cycle so that you in turn can get maximum value in return from customers.

Too often we get caught up in the efficiency trap and forget about delivering value.


If your teams are caught in the efficiency trap and forgetting about value delivery, we should talk!

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