Here’s how the work = juggling analogy really holds together. Your hands represent the number of resources you have. The balls represent the tasks you’re working on. If the number of tasks/balls is greater the available resources/hands, then you’re juggling.
However, he also points out the downside of adding more people:
The extra hands are an advantage, the extra brains are a problem.If you’ve ever worked on a dysfunctional team, that probably resonated with you. However, there is a juggling tip that can easily be applied to project management: communication is the key to successful teamwork.
When you work alone, the coordination between the left hand and the right hand happens naturally. As Dancey says, “one brain controls all of the hands.” When you add extra hands and the brains that go with them, communication is essential. Before you can begin working (or juggling) everybody needs to start on the same page and agree on a workflow. (In juggling, it’s called a “passing pattern” and it determines when each person will throw a ball and to whom they will throw it.)
I hope that doesn’t sound like only one person on a team can serve as “the brain” while everybody else is reduced to simple working with their hands. None of this is meant to imply that a dictatorial management style is necessary. As Dancey points out, there is room for creativity, improvisation, and discovery within the confines of a pre-arranged pattern. But if anybody breaks outside of the agreed-upon guidelines, anarchy will ensue and—if you’ll pardon the expression—somebody is going to end up dropping the ball.
Further Reading: The Encyclopedia of Ball Juggling by Charlie Dancey