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No. 638 / The thing about bottlenecks

Bottlenecks can be useful—but only to the extent that they direct the attention to whichever part of the system is receiving the most pressure. Like with fire hoses, traffic jams, hiring processes, or procurement procedures.

But, of course, knowing the location of the bottleneck isn’t good enough. If you’re the bottleneck, then it’s your job to either finally succeed in achieving “inbox zero” or effectively delegate the task so that someone else can do it.

And achieving “inbox zero” doesn’t only apply to having a clean email inbox—it also means having a high level of responsiveness in Slack, in your project management tool, and in approving things that need your sign off.

Yes, bottlenecks suck. Sometimes, they’re caused by an inefficient process. Other times, they’re the result of fear. Either way, fixing the issue should be your top priority because if there’s one thing we know about systems, it’s that they degrade and eventually fail under constant stress.