Team Productivity

Why the Problem Lies within the System 

 

In this post, Dan Markovitz identifies the weak spots in  productivity hacks and explains why they don’t work.

Leaders in organizations are always seeking to improve employee productivity (including their own). All too often, that quest goes no further than time management training provided by the HR department. Those classes cover the pros and cons of Inbox Zero, the Pomodoro technique, the Eisenhower matrix, Getting Things Done, and countless other approaches that tantalize us with visions of the promised land of peak productivity. Given that people are still overwhelmed by work, buried in email, and unable to focus on critical priorities, it’s safe to say that these productivity hacks don’t hack it. 

The problem isn’t with the intrinsic logic of any of these approaches. It’s that they fail to account for the simple fact that most people don’t work in isolation. They work in complex organizations defined by interdependencies among people—and it’s these interdependencies that have the greatest effect on personal productivity. You can be an email ninja, but with the explosion of email (not to mention instant messages, Twitter direct messages, Slack messages, and countless other communication tools), you’ll never be fast enough to deal with all the incoming communication. Similarly, your personal urgent/important Eisenhower categories fall apart when the CEO asks you to do stop what you’re doing and handle something right now. 

As legendary statistician and management consultant W. Edwards Deming argued in his book Out of the Crisis, 94% of most problems and possibilities for improvement belong to the system, not the individual. I would argue that most productivity improvements belong there as well. Personal productivity systems are certainly useful, but the most effective antidote to low productivity and inefficiency must be implemented at the system level, not the individual level.

 

Four countermeasures to systemic overload include:

  • Tackling tiered daily huddles
  • Enabling an equitable distribution of work
  • Defining the “bat signal”
  • Aligning responsibility with authority

 

Read the full article, Why Your Productivity Hacks Don’t Hack It, on MarkovitzConsulting.com. 

 

How to Improve Your Productivity Proactively

 

Maintaining productivity for you and your team is not always easy, but despair not; David A. Fields provides a list of productivity questions designed to make you assess, address, and activate a productivity system.

Puff your chest out and strike a superhero pose. You’re Super Productivity Person! Sigh, that’s not very catchy is it?

Also, to be fair, probably neither you nor your consulting firm are achieving legendary productivity day in and day out. You could, though, using the approach outlined below.

Productivity isn’t as sexy a superpower as x-ray vision*, stretchy skin, or spidey senses.*

On the other hand, sky-high productivity feels pretty darn good and rewards you and your consulting firm with high profits, meaningful work, and enviable work/life balance.

So, how do you step up to the Mt. Olympus of productivity?

If you run a quick search on time management and productivity techniques, you’ll surface dozens of approaches. (Hover your mouse here to see some examples.)

It turns out that virtually all of the many, many productivity approaches and systems are built to help you answer a handful of basic questions.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • The Basic Productivity Questions
  • The More Important Productivity Questions
  • The Superhero Productivity Question

 

Read the full article, How To Make Yourself And Your Consulting Firm Super Productive, and access the questions, on David’s website.