The Bun Protocol

by Krishna on January 21, 2011

Henrik Kniberg comes up with an idea to handle client requests:

You have 3 options:

  1. Eat it yourself
  2. Give it to somebody else
  3. Throw it away

This is the same strand of thinking as the Monkey Management gurus and the “Getting Things Done” people. In general, all of these have answers to the same question: how do you avoid getting overwhelmed with different tasks? They all have some useful techniques. It is worth learning them and using what works best.

However, one shortcoming I found is that they don’t address long-term tasks well. You have to somehow break down such tasks into shorter one-time tasks or recurring tasks so that you can use this system. Sometimes, that doesn’t serve the purpose.

Over time, the idea I have embraced is that one must reduce incoming requests. They serve as distractions and take your focus off long-term goals. Every email, meeting and call takes your time and effort away from achieving such goals.

People think that they cannot control incoming tasks and so need a system to handle them. But there are choices to be made. By investing more in product quality today, you can reduce customer support requests in the future. By taking a few minutes longer to send an email reply to a person, you can avoid the need for further email or phone communication.

In short, quality today in handling requests is the key to reducing requests tomorrow.


Henrik Kniberg January 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

In my case it is the opposite. The more I improve the quality of my work (as coach & trainer), the more requests I receive from other companies that want coaching and training. So if I truly wanted to reduce the number of incoming requests, I would have to decrease the quality of my work o:)

Krishna January 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Henrik, I am talking about customer support requests. Not requests to take on new opportunities. That would be welcome, of course.

There is work that is rewarding and then there is work which is simply a waste – fixing issues that should not have been there in the first place.

Henrik Kniberg January 29, 2011 at 8:54 am

Yep, some people use the term “value demand” vs “failure demand” to distinguish between the two. I like that.

So far we’ve mostly used the Bun Protocol for Value Demand (I’m happy to say we don’t have much of the other type of demand), but it will probably work fine for Failure Demand as well. As long as you take the extra step of trying to fix whatever root problem is causing the requests to come in :o)

Krishna January 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm

That is a good problem to have, Henrik! Time to expand your operations, perhaps.

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