According to Yves Morieux of the BCG Institute, annual productivity increase peaked in the business sector in the 1980s at 3%. In the 1990s, it dropped to 2%, to 1% last decade and continuing to decline this decade. It is worth noting that this steady decline is occurring during the most revolutionary changes in the workplace both in terms of technology and maturity of management principles. How is this possible and what role are you playing in it?
No question that technology is allowing you to do more, connect with more people, have more information at your finger tips, and all of it from just about any geographical location. Traditional barriers have been broken for sure. Concurrently, the researched-based models for leaders and managers (books, articles, coaches, training, etc) to adopt to get the most out of their employees has never been more robust. There literally is no secret on how to manage people effectively. Morieux builds the case that 40-80% of the work being done in companies is either non-value or very low-value work that is based in large part on a ‘defensive’ strategy versus an offensive one. This means you are spending more time in meetings that are either too long or yielding in poor decisions, managing how to protect either your interests or that of your groups, and dealing with white noise of corporate structure, management and politics that Morieux says resembles the US Congress. All these, and several more disablers, are draining companies of being offensive by proactively removing these productivity barriers. Why not have 30 minute meeting with mandatory agendas, for example? It is becoming evident that productivity is less about newer and faster tools or systems, and more about constantly identifying and removing barriers.
This week, take a hard look at your weekly calendar and color code your high and low-value activities? What is the ratio? How many activities are there that you are enabling either by leading it or by attending it? As a leader, your daily metric ought to include a list of barriers you have removed for others. You will find that doing so is difficult but necessary to reverse the troubling productivity trend. It really is this simple. Making it any more complex than this is enabling the trend!