The Theory on Productivity

Interesting Thoughts came across me in today’s morning walk. Early Morning Walk was recommended by my doctor to avoid regular muscle pulls that I’ve been experiencing for some time. I’ve been performing this Healthy routine for about a few months and have started liking it. The fresh morning air, the varied visuals of nature in different parts of my township and the many people I meet gives a nice crank to start of a productive day. But this is not the first time I’ve done this and till I visited the doctor I didn’t have any motivation to do this activity.

Today I thought about this and extrapolated to how work gets done in Enterprises and some very interesting thoughts came and I’m typing them out now…

I’ve been working on a lot of Unified Communications, Collaboration and Contact Center technologies for over a decade and even crossed the border into miscellaneous Mobility and EUC technologies. When I try to make sense of all these something fundamental seems to be missing. This something has been bothering me as to why all this plethora of technologies landed in the first place. A few interrupted days of introspection and lots of reading later now I can only think of one key word around which all these technologies revolve.

This in my Opinion is the crux of the topic of “Productivity”.

My key intention in the article is to go through what I’ve rounded up on as concepts that help define productivity into a finite and tangible aspect instead ambiguous marketing talk.

Going back to the Pleasant activity: The morning walk is still not performed by everyone. Even after eliminating people who cannot genuinely take a walk, we still have over 99% of people who do not take a walk. Why?

I’m no stranger here. Even I started only after doctor’s advice. But why did I not do this ‘before’ the Doctor’s advice? Personally I believed that if I got up early then I’ll be tired in Office. Secondly ……Aw…I hate to say this……………….I am Lazy……There I said it…Now lets get back to topic

In the Enterprise Setup the reason why employees are hired is to get work done. There is always some system using which the Enterprise works and the Employee becomes the cog in the entire setup. However this cog has the freedom to slow-down, clog up and just go out of sync. It is the Business’s fundamental task to ensure that the cogs perform as per the need but being humans there are always some difference in expected and actual output. This ratio between the actual and expected output is what according to the many Definitions what ‘Productivity’ should be.

I’m not comfortable with this definition, not because it is wrong, but because it does not help me with my flow 😉

So when I look at the ingredients of Productivity, I see three main Entities

  • Activity
  • Knowledge Content
  • Employee Intent

First let us look at ‘Activity

I’m using the word Activity but in your sphere of understanding it could mean Process or System as well based on your background. What I’m referring to is ultimately is the Work that the Employee is supposed to perform. Now how do we measure the activity? This is a question I’ve always pondered if there is one solution but I always land on the solutions…The Reason is a wide array or situations faced, activities performed and bundling of activities by different types of people.

If we try to understand the activities of each entity we see a level-of-control relationship that changes significantly between the entities. By control I do not mean the kind of control between boss and subordinate but rather the ability to change behavior in the lower layer by action on nearby entities. What we however see is the consistent increase in volume of information increasing with every step taken towards Tactical direction. However the Criticality of each information Increases as we go towards the Strategic Direction.

Now though I’ve not been able to find ways to measure activity based productivity, It has been a science that has been studied thoroughly in the past century … However I still believe that the ancient Brawn based understanding is breaking apart in the current Digital Information era.

Talking about ‘Information’ Lets get to the point of ‘Knowledge Content’ that IMO is in a way the ‘Raw Material’ of the Ancient Brawn Era. Knowledge Content has three dimensions:

  • Quantity: How much the person knows is probably the entry criteria for current generation job roles. There are many ways this can be measured, maintained or bleached…but that would call for another blog post.
  • Quality: The Information that the person has without contextual understanding and capability to extrapolate is not usable in most situations. For example a person could know how to how to delete a account in Exchange but the contextual knowledge of knowing that it should only be done with official checks and in certain circumstances with second opinion comes with Intelligence, Maturity and Experience.
  • Networking: It would be unwise to block Today’s individual’s Knowledge Content measurement based on how much that person got trained, learned and is able to apply directly. It now extends to the level of Network the person has to handle tricky situations and productivity goes beyond personal limits. This used to have a a bit less impact in the Pre-Digital Era due to the limits of Networking limited to Physical Access. But even in those days without Networking mankind would not have created the electronic, electrical and mechanical marvels we take for granted. The Current Generation of workforce however come with Network that is global in nature and IMO Interview questions should not be asking about what the person knows but rather whom they would approach to find the solution.

Talking of ‘Approach’ comes the last dimension of Employee Intent. Its simple fact that if the employee is not motivated enough then even if the Activity is highly structured and Employee is Loaded with Knowledge, the job will not get done…

In Summary I believe this formula would bring this all together

Productivity = (Activity * Content * Intent) / Investment

Sadly this is still Subjective and not Objective L…Will infuse Objectivity later…

What do you think? Next I’m thinking how this will impact IT….


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