The Great Productivity Challenge

Productivity gains in knowledge and service work have long been harder to achieve than productivity gains for the production of goods. The term work smarter, not harder is particularly relevant in addressing productivity in knowledge and service work.

But how do we work smarter?

Back in 1881 Frederick W. Taylor kicked off a productivity revolution, the underlying principles of which, are still relevant today. They are as follows:

– Define the task – What is the task? What are we trying to accomplish? Must we do it at all? There is great productive value in eliminating that which does not need to be done at all.

– Concentrate on the task – An important question to ask when trying to focus the allocation of effort is “what value is this job supposed to add?”

– Define performance in qualitative and/or quantitative terms.

– Engage the people who do the work and ask how they think productivity could be improved. This creates a sense of ownership in achieving productivity outcomes.

– Commit to continuous learning and improvement by training staff and then encouraging good performers to teach other staff.

By following these principles, productivity gains are accessible to all businesses.