Businesses today operate with remarkable similarity to how they did more than 250 years ago. It made absolute sense to relate productivity to time (units/hours) solely because it was so much easier to work during daylight hours. But that was before things like electricity, telecommunications, automobiles, computers, and the internet.
As the multitude of technological advances became prominent fixtures in business of all types, the standard of productivity has remained in place, though it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Many tasks that used to take days, weeks, or months now just take a couple minutes or hours. The increased speed also brings increased reliability, predictability, and value.
Our fascination with maximizing our productivity might actually be hindering our profitability in more ways than billings-per-hour! It minimizes our time for crucial planning, practice, and preparation while making almost zero time for mistakes, prevention, or maintenance.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
The sophisticated coordination and scheduling of resources is critical to every project’s success. It is a highly imaginative process (where many details can be anticipated with high degrees of accuracy) that is as crucial to completion as showing up in the first place. While some tend to be naturally pre-disposed to this type of thinking; we can all improve with good experience and exposure. Another way to increase productivity is for everyone involved to be intimately involved with the planning.
Organizations should spend more time actively planning rather than merely being ‘being productive’.
When we look at actors (many earning a lifetime of income per appearance) we see they spend far more time rehearsing and conditioning than they do in actual performance or production mode.
Rehearsal allows us to stop, try again, and proceed with varying paces to build enough connections between performer and performance. This facilitates the kind of deep learning that is the foundation for transformational growth. It is the safe environment where we can try new things, push limits, and make mistakes.
Organizations focused on growth should build environments and systems where high performers can rehearse and improve their skills.
Before any actor takes the stage, they first go through wardrobe and make-up as they become the character they will portray.
The transformation time is critical to a great performance. Whatever our chosen profession, we also have obligations to friends and family outside of work that are likely more important to us. A daily commute is hardly enough or ideal time to switch between modes. Preparation is when where we gather and inspect our tools, inventory supplies, and focus on our upcoming tasks. It is both physical and mental activity.
The more valuable or critical the work, the more we tend to appreciate the preparation that goes into it.
Working with other human beings means building and maintaining dynamic relationships. Without these, teamwork is next to impossible, and we also miss out on the synergistic benefits that come from collaborations. Working together as a cohesive team constantly drives effectiveness and efficiencies, but they take time to build.
Organizations that invest in building and maintaining relationships among team members benefit tremendously over those that do not.
Planning, rehearsal, preparation, and relationships are pre-cursors to great productivity. They make it possible to shatter records and bring new levels of productivity we previously only imagined.
Google famously encourages employees to spend 20% of their time working on something that fascinates or excites them. The opportunities to do this not only builds intricate webs of strong personal relationships between individuals, it is also one of the biggest driving forces behind their growth through new products, features, endeavors, and so-called ‘moonshots’.
Drop me a line if you are interested in discovering ways your organization can grow while escaping the dated ‘productivity’ cycle.