The Paradox of Workplace Productivity – Harvard Business Review

English: Productivity comparison for the membe...

English: Productivity comparison for the member states of the OECD. Productivity is Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per hour worked, as measured in US dollars. Lines for the OECD average and the Euro-zone average shown for comparison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This short HBR raises an important paradox. It suggests that people have become more productive but companies, not so much.

Source: The Paradox of Workplace Productivity

Whilst I agree with the observation, I feel that the arguments to explain the paradox were too simplistic.

Let me share a few ideas.

Firstly, I feel it essential that a business has an effective strategy. Secondly, the whole business must be effectively engaged in operationalizing that strategy – this is generally not the case, particularly in large businesses.

In my experience, it’s in business processes that the most damage is done, in terms of the productivity leakage and the diluting of strategy. Processes are frequently broken, poorly designed and maintained but most important of all they are not effectively customer focused.

Next I would like to throw in to the mix two archetypes, namely the Sales Director or VP and the Finance Director or CFO.

In my experience the typical sales director is motivated by the top line irrespective of margin, marketing considerations or the business strategy. These old fashioned sales directors are dinosaurs – they are like market pedlars and they destroy effective productivity too.

As for the CFO too many are pompous without any deep understanding of the business, the markets, customers and the strategy. Many are poorly educated, fail to understand the behavioral interactions in business – they frequently struggle because they cannot articulate themselves well. For them, there is a simplistic notion, ‘the numbers never lie’. The CFO want to slash and burn, reducing the headcount and the cost per employee. So the CFO is an effective roadblock to strategy delivery and improving corporate productivity.

I could expand this blog by introducing projects but I hope the reader will indulge me that most large projects fail to achieve their objectives and water down the effectiveness of business strategy. Most important of all is the link between projects and productivity – it’s always there in the justification stage but is very rarely delivered.

So to conclude, corporate productivity is important and I suggest that it should feature in the business strategy. Finally, I would argue that it’s time the corporate dinosaurs were consigned to the golf course.


EU referendum: Remain nearly 10 percentage points ahead of Brexit camp, poll says | UK Politics | News | The Independent

The Independent reports that support for a Remain vote in the referendum on the European Union is nearly 10 points ahead of Brexit, citing a new poll. The ORB survey for the Telegraph found that if the referendum was held now some 52 per cent of respondents would back remaining a member of the EU, with 43 per cent for leave, down five points on the previous poll.

Source: EU referendum: Remain nearly 10 percentage points ahead of Brexit camp, poll says | UK Politics | News | The Independent

Personally, I believe that there is still no room for complacency. There’s still an urgent need to win over the undecided voters to the Remain campaign.

There’s also an urgent need to understand and discredit the arguments in favor of Brexit. In particular, the notion that Britain can reduce immigration is quaint but just not true; the Economist argued that immigration would stay the same based on skills and international competitivity.

The media needs to turn attention to immigration.