People often turn a blind eye to productivity and treat it as a temporary trend to discuss. However, productivity is closely intertwined with our success. Paul Krugman, who is a Nobel Prize winner in economics, has summed it up coherently: “Productivity is not everything, but in the long run, it is almost everything.”
Is there a productivity crisis?
Absolutely. Between the 50s and the 70s, productivity used to grow with 5% yearly. Productivity dropped with 2% between ‘73 and ‘83. Since 1995 till today, productivity grows with only 1% per annum. Surprisingly, this has happened along with our entrance in the digital era.
Which are the 3 over-exploited pillars of efficiency?
- Clarity: Managers cannot stop complaining about the lack of clarity in their company processes and roles. This is how organizations end up piling up hundreds of compliance audits and diagnostics. Pigeonholing employees in the name of clarity does not help, as the nature of business has become much more complex. Roles and processes are often overlapping and investing time in making “everything” clear are just efforts down the drain.
- Accountability: It is convenient to have somebody accountable for failure. Thus, failure becomes somewhat more mild, perhaps. In other words, we know whom to blame. And while being occupied with whom to place the guilt upon, we are not seeing the wood for the trees. The drive for accountability leads to middle offices and creation of a silo culture, where it is just not needed.
- Measurement: As the argument goes, we are digitally savvy, therefore, everything must be measurable. Employees put their energy into writing lengthy reports, entering meetings, coming up with meeting reports and dealing with various performance indicators. The paradox is that these processes take up to 80% of the day and kills productivity. Yes, everything gets measured somehow, but at what price?
The key to productivity
Cooperation. Good teamwork guarantees success. Take for example the World Championship Final for Women for 100 meters in 2013. Although the 2 fastest runners on earth were in the American team, the French managed to outrun them because of their cooperation. As the saying goes “Thanks to cooperation, the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts.” When teams are working for standing out individually, the results are not great, as the team needs to pull together in the right direction. Cooperation makes energy multiply. This is the value people should focus on: working together.