Productivity, the intersection of art and science

Productivity, the intersection of art and science

Productivity. Is it an art or a science? Individually driven or an organisational application? While there are many arguments for each view, we believe productivity is at its best at the heart of a Venn diagram; the intersection of all these factors.

It is commonly thought that the individual drives productivity; each employee being the master of their own outputs and the sum of the combined efforts is a productive organisation. This is somewhat driven by discipline and structure, or science, as well as personality and working style, or art.

There are of course, common traits that are shared by productive individuals such as focus, discipline, organisation, problem solving and planning. But there are also learned and environmental behaviours that can be just as beneficial to productivity, that with a little attention anyone can develop and hone. These include:

  • List making
  • Prioritisation
  • Limiting distractions (especially technological ones)
  • Removing noise for your work environment
  • Working in a decluttered environment
  • Consistent reference and reflection on KPI’s

It’s easy to see how the individual can drive productivity but what about the organisation? A detailed insight into performance and efficiency of all staff and departments is key to unlocking true productivity. Start with an audit of processes; ask your staff what the most time consuming parts of their daily jobs are or the sticky spots of a process that cause the most hold ups. These insights provide clues of areas to focus on; investigate the holdups and problem solve more concise, efficient ways to navigate through.

Another tactic to improve productivity is a time/task audit. Ask all staff to complete a log of what they spend their time on each day; admin, internal meetings, client meetings, client liaison, production, reporting and the like. By collating this information you can see, as a percentage of total time, where efforts are spent. For example, this may reveal admin tasks take up 20% of overall time which many would consider too high and a distraction from tasks that deliver outputs for the business.

Then of course there is the upskilling and professional development of employees, effective use of technology, an innovative and collaborative environment and managers that are engaged in their employees performance and development. These factors all contribute to improved productivity and should be part of the bigger picture of improvement and development.

What is most important is to have measures in place to track outputs, time and efficiency. Only when this data is captured over time are you able to truly see what tweaks, changes and combinations drive productivity improvements, or possibly decrease productivity. Measurement also allows you to identify the most productive employees, affording you the opportunity to learn from their successes.

The productive person is enviable – it’s someone we all strive to be. But add in the mix a productive organisation, focused on creating an environment where assets and employees are utilised in the most efficient way possible and you have a recipe for success. It’s no secret but it does require discipline.