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Little’s Law

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Definition of Little’s Law

Little’s Law is a formula that helps you understand how work flows through a process. It states that if you perform more tasks simultaneously, it takes longer to complete each task. The formula looks like this:

Little's law

If there are many tasks being worked on at the same time (= a lot of “Work in Progress”) and you can only complete a limited number of tasks per unit of time (Throughput), it then takes longer to complete each task. The formula helps to determine how to make work more efficient by finding the right balance between how much tasks are in progress and how quickly tasks can be completed.

Key to managing Flow

Therefore, Little’s Law is also called the key to managing flow. By understanding the formula, you grasp which parameters play a role in improving and optimizing the flow of work.

The Cycle Time of the work is thus directly related to the Throughput and the amount of work that is present at a given time in the work process (Work in Progress).

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