Most organizations will say that the people are their biggest asset. This is true in many ways, especially since without the people those organizations would not exist. After a few decades of working with those same organizations in the area of operations, I submit that while they can be your biggest asset they can also be your biggest liability when it comes to your organization’s productivity.
How productive your team is can help propel the organization forward or be a constant anchor tied to its progress. Put into a simple equation, productivity = total output / total input. Put in terms of everyday business, when your team spends 40 hours per week working and you end up with less than 40 hours results to show for it, your team is not optimizing productivity. Yes, it can be easily argued that most people are not 100% productive or productive 100% of the time. My response is, “why not”? While it is not easy to take the time to come up with ideas of how to improve productivity, it won’t take you more than five minutes to think through how many times each of the following occurs on a daily or weekly basis. Start there.
Each time a task is done more than once, productivity goes down. It seems common sense that each activity should only be done by one person or just once but it is surprising how often this occurs.
This is one of the biggest killers. Each time you need to stop and wait to get authorization for something or run it by a ‘superior’, time and resources are lost.
The age old saying, “stop reinventing the wheel”, is one of the most common productivity loss leaders. Each time an activity is done and it is not documented, shared and/or trained, the next time it is done or occurs, it is reinvented.
The double check
Mistakes happen and we don’t want them to happen again. So as they occur we look for ideas of how to avoid them next time. The first thought is to put some kind of double check or verification into the process. This takes us back to the first item above, duplication. Talk it through and figure out what actually causes the errors and address that rather than putting a Band-Aid over it.
Each time there is a hand-off, work moving from one person to another, productivity is affected by both increased time to accomplish as well as the time it will take to identify and fix the errors that will occur.
Try this simple (and sometimes entertaining) exercise with your team. Pick a single process or work flow in your organization. Get each person who plays a role in it into the same room. Have them verbally explain what they do and go stand in line in the order they do it. Each time one of the following occurs, there is potential for increasing the team’s/organization’s productivity: an activity is repeated by one or more people, people keep moving around, there are far more people standing than common sense says there should be for this level of process. For example, invoice or PO approval should not have 10 people standing up at the front of the room and certainly should not look like a game of musical chairs.
Focusing on productivity is one of those great gifts in life. The more time you spend on improving it, the more time you end up with in the end.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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