Friday, April 6, 2012

The Hidden Key to Productivity

Every company worries in some way about how to make people more productive. To do this, most companies normally focus on two things: training – building knowledge and skills, and technology. No doubt this does yield returns. However, there is something else, perhaps even more powerful, that is largely ignored.

Productivity is how much you produce or create within a given period of time. Therefore, it has an implicit rate component to it. This means how productive we are depends on how fast and how effectively we act. Our knowledge and skills certainly play into how effectively we act and technology can speed it all up. The other hidden component, however, is how fast and effectively information travels through an organisation every day. Information about who else is doing what, information on resources in the company and the larger ecosystem, information on happenings in the market and about customers – the general buzz and chatter. If you don’t know about something, you can’t incorporate it into your planning or decision-making. You can’t act on it. This is true not just for companies but for societal productivity and progress in general. Still, the value of how information flows through the company seems sort of intangible. Just how valuable might it be to employee productivity? How do you put a number on it?