I was reading something the other day which reminded me of the number of keyboard shortcuts available within some software packages. If you take the time to learn these, they can shave seconds off simple tasks – improving your performance and productivity. Yet each individual time you use one, the benefit is tiny.
Performance improvements in any process are like this. Each one may be very small … but a number of small improvements can make a substantial gain overall.
So always look for the simple, small gains … but look hard and look often. They may offer you a massive gain over the next year.
I don’t know whether you know about the horsemeat scandal in the UK – where horsemeat has been found in a range of pre-produced ‘beef’ products but it does remind us that each of us is responsible for securing our own supply chain – and knowing what goes on within it.
We can’t blame our suppliers, our distributors or the government when something like this happens. Well, we can try … but our customers will hold us responsible … and it is our brand that will suffer.
it takes a long time to build a brand; it takes one scandal – or perceived scandal – to destroy it.
How secure is your supply chain?
Some productivity methodologies and techniques seem to be more used in specific sectors.
This suggests that either they are in some way particularly suited to the processes involved in that sector …. or perhaps just a historical accident that the methodology or technique started in that sector and has not yet broken our into wider industry.
My view is that all techniques are applicable in all sectors … especially since most of them are simply structured ways of asking searching questions.
So, because a technique seems to be well-established in a particular sector doesn’t mean you shouldn’t transfer it to your own sector. After all learning from others is always a useful approach.
Two old adages say “Measurement creates understanding” and “You get what you measure”.
The first is self-explanatory – if you want to understand a situation, measure it, once you know how mant/much, when, at what rate and at what quality levels things happen, you can take sensible decisions about processes.
The second adage implies that measuring things changes the behaviour of those associated with those things – when they realise what you think is important (because you are measuring it) they will give you more of that measured factor – but perhaps at the expense of other important things which either you are not measuring or they do not know you are measuring.
The lesson is that measurement is important – it does indeed help you understand what is going on … and helps you work out why. But if you measure the wrong things, you might get changed behaviours that you had not planned to, and do not want.
So measure – but be careful what and how you measure.
There are many blogs offering ‘personal productivity’ advice – often linked to reminder/time management software… but often just offering simple advice.
A common piece of advice is to ‘declutter’ your life – get rid of distractions and focus on the real issues.I can see the wisdom in this so from now on I will stop reading such blogs and focus on real work.
I feel decluttered already.
How would a productivity director of a global enterprise exhibit leadership?
My first thoughts are that, like all effective leaders, they would define and articulate a clear mission, vision and set of values with commitment to : excellence, fairness, recognition, and reward.
They would demonstrate an understanding of the environmental and social impact of business activity.
They would support their mission and vision with the provision of appropriate resources.
Finally, they would ‘walk the walk’ – all the above would be reflected in the way they behave as much as in what they said
For several decades after World War II, the graphs for productivity and wages mirrored eac other – productivity increases allowed workers to earn more money. Over the last decade this has changed. Whoever is reaping the benefits of increased productivity, it certainly isn’t the workers.
Part of the explanation is that technological change distorts the relationship- technology when applied successfully lowers costs and increases productivity. You might think it is s fair that workers should not benefit if labour productivity has not brought about the change …but if we can’t design a society that shares the benefits, we build up unrest for the future.
When times are tough (as they are now), we tend to turn in all directions looking for some help
So, will technology help us out of the current mess we are in?
It is possible for some types of organisation – but I wouldn’t bet on it.
In concert with something else - procedural review, process re-engineering – you stand more chance -but relying on technology on its own sounds like desperation.
China’s productivity record over recent years has been excellent – yet most of the improvement has come from capital investment.
As such it has been relatively low-hanging fruit. If growth is to be maintained, the job gets harder- needing real changes to systems, processes and procedures … real changes to labour productivity.
It will be interesting to observe progress.
This, of course is the time for resolution- determination to do more and/or better, to improve. But this shouldn’t happen at new year- or, at least, not only at new year. Such determination should be ingrained in you at all times – and across your organisation.
So, by all means make a resolution - but resolve to keep resolving… to keep challenging and improving, asking questions and seeking answers.
Above all, resolve not to be complacent. Make this a truly productive year … and the basis of many more.