The Productivity Paradox – STOP blaming the Internet!

Whilst reading “How the Internet Affects Productivity” by Mika Hannula & Antti Lönnqvist, I was compelled to share my outrage at the irresponsible “blame-game” ineffective typical management insists on playing to cover-up their own inefficiency & mismanagement.

For the record; “the execution of an idea is always more brilliant than the thought“, and the Productivity Paradox that so many books & papers have been written on has more to do with the false measurement methods and conceptual misunderstandings applied, than it does looking for someone other then ourselves to blame!

In this blog post you’ll find examples of, and learn how / about;

  • The Internet is NOT to blame for productivity loss
  • The do-or-die relevance of having a strategic plan
  • The mistake of ignoring critical measurements
  • Productivity is NOT about speed
Reality Check #1 – The Internet is here to stay!

The use of the Internet is NO longer an option! If you haven’t figured this out yet, then you might as well find the rock you just crawled out from beneath and quickly get back under it. Better yet, just bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and wait until the next ice-age hits.

Think about your last purchase for a minute,  what’s more productive? Placing an add in a magazine, billboard or an intrusive pop-up in a web browser.. or a recommendation from a trusted source? Imagine an online marketplace, such as Linqia,  where companies identify, connect and engage with masses of highly targeted consumers participating in online communities and groups. A +30% engagement rate would be proof enough for me to realize that the Internet is The Place to promote my offering instead of old-school printed media.

When you’re looking to wine & dine your sweetheart, or evaluating your next holiday option, do you search on-line before going to the travel agent? That’s if you even bother to leave your house & go to the agent in the first place. Who do you trust more? The experiences of your peers as recounted through pictures & stories, or those looking to profit from you booking a picture postcard illusion?

The issue with the Internet these days is that corporations don’t take the time to establish an effective strategy, including the necessary education for you to be effective. You can either spend the rest of the day doing Google searches and be overwhelmed by information overload, or you can be educated & given the narrow focus that will lead you to the promise-land of scalable / highly valuable on-line content.

Reality Check #2 – You HAVE to have a plan!

Jim Rohn is noted for stating; “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”  As in life.. in business! Is there really any difference? If you don’t have a plan, better yet.. an effective plan, than I can guarantee you’ll soon find yourself on someone else’s journey!

1st, don’t blame your employees if they’re surfing the internet instead of doing “productive” work unless you’ve thought about the expected outcome (effective = outcome focus) of the tasks they’re performing as it relates to your over-all success strategy.

2nd, guarantee your staff understands (have them repeat it back to you) your strategy, how it relates to their tasks, and how their individual contributions will contribute toward your success. That’s called the buy-in process, and it’s the primary difference between successfully executing on an idea vs. just having a brilliant thought!

Oh, and if your plan is to block “non-productive” internet sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.. think again.. you better confiscate their smartphones when they walk through the doors in the morning as well. Unless your people are part of your success plan, then it’s not a success plan to begin with.

Reality Check #3 – If you can’t measure it, you can’t achieve it!

“In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.” – Arnold H. Glasgow

Have you ever driven around in circles because you didn’t have a GPS System? Well that’s about as effective as you’ll be if you don’t have appropriate measurements of where you are.. where you want to be.. by when.. and in what condition when you get there. There’s far too much focus on throwing tools at problems instead of first understanding them. A faster car will only increase the speed at which you drive around in circles!

The majority of productivity issues I’ve seen in organizations have absolutely EVERYTHING to do with lack of planning & strategy, and less to do with lacking technology. Technology is a facilitator, and it’s also been known to facilitate / speed your rapid decline when you aren’t conscious how quickly that hole you’ve dug yourself into is getting deeper by the second.

Of the most effective measurement tools I’ve found to-date to improve productivity has been a little app called WorkMeter. WorkMeter WORKS because it’s much more than just about comparing input vs. output. Thinking that productivity is that simple a consequence is just as fool hearted (as Peter Drucker would say) as the single greatest error and deception of our modern accounting system. Which is that PEOPLE are listed in the “liability” column as compared to the “asset” column of corporate balance-sheets.

Reality Check #4 – Productivity is NOT about speed!

Have you ever heard the phrase beauty is in the eyes of the beholder? Well, unless you realize that value is to beauty as beholder is to customer, then you’ll NEVER be productive. Worse yet, you’ll never be effective! Productivity is LESS about how fast you achieve something, and more about how EFFECTIVELY you achieve it.

Who is your customer? If you’re in business, regardless of leadership role, you have both internal & external customers. Internal customers are the colleagues that are co-dependent on you in some form to get their own job done. Whether a colleague awaiting your revision of their concept, a component in a larger over-all process, or the guy in the next cubicle who’s mood you influence with your own. External customers are those who see the beauty, and therefore value, in your products.. leading them to purchase more.

Take the example of a Hollywood screenwriter whose productivity is measured in words typed per minute instead of the quality of the output. What’s the goal? To get a script written quickly, or to have an interesting script that an audience is willing to fill a movie house to watch? In the first case, the pace at which it’s written counts, not the quality of the screenplay itself. How likely are you to shell out your hard earned cash to go watch this movie? This is a typical example of poor productivity measurement. The effectiveness of the output of a writer contributes to the productivity of the writing process, since the customer finally defines the writer’s unit output. The effectiveness of the text written by the writer is without any doubt noticed by the customer, and the over-ruling measurement of productivity!

In summary, if you want to have effective productivity.. true productivity, you need

  1. An Effective Plan
  2. Employee Buy-in (Momentum, Enthusiasm & Alignment)
  3. Understand Your Internal & External Customer’s True Needs & Perceptions
  4. Measure, Act / Adjust & Measure Again (Incremental Progress Toward a Predefined Outcome)
  5. Educate, Acknowledge & Celebrate Success
  6. Forget Your preconceived Notion of Productivity / True Productivity = Customer Value Perception

How many of these can you CONFIDENTLY “tick-off” as complete or under-control?

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