In my previous post I covered the phenomenon of Job Title Diffusion. That is the impact of a variety of job titles can have on a organisation.

Recently, I’ve had to examine this in more detail and found that a Causal Loop Diagram really helped to illustrate and understand the problem (see this post for more details about Causal Loop Diagrams). What I ended up with is the diagram below.

Causal Loop Diagram of Job Title Diffusion

As a refresher, the S links move in the Same direction and the O links move in the Opposite direction. For example, as the variety of job roles increase in a team also the variety of technology and code increases in the team (S link). Also, as the variety of job roles increases the variety of work an individual can pick up decreases (O link).

There is a Reinforcement Loop going from variety of job roles to variety of work an individual can pick up to pressure to recruit specialists and back to variety of job roles. This often manifests itself in a vicious circle that drives the number of each type of specialist which reinforces the siloing of job role and variety of technology and code in the team.

I’ve also recorded that having more individuals who can only pick up certain types of work can cause pressure for more work in-progress which will negatively impact the amount of work delivered (work takes longer to complete and is impacted by workers being unavailable). This in turn creates pressure to recruit more specialists and fuels our Reinforcement Loop.

There are two output dangles from the system. The first of these is the bus factor risk of the team, this is a rather macabre idea of how much the team would be impacted by an individual being hit by a bus (a bus factor of 1 would be only one person knows about this part of the system). Second, is the pressure on team cost which is driven by the pressure on small team size, which in turn is driven by variety of job roles in the team.

Finally, I’ve added the intervention I suggested in my previous post as an input dangle. This is highlighted in yellow and named encourage people to work outside their specialism. This impacts the variety of work that an individual can pick up and starts to turn the Reinforcement Loop into a virtuous, rather than vicious, circle.