Productivity Improvement for Entrepreneurs (and Everybody Else Really)

The 3 Factors That are Limiting Your Productivity [the broken link has been removed] by Evan Carmichael

Elimination is at the core of every successful business. You have to focus on what you’re really good [at], what drives your business forward, and what you’re legally required to do in order to stay in business. Everything else should be eliminated.

Just because everyone else does it or because you’ve always done it that way, it doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it.

The order of Eliminate, Automate, Delegate is very important.

Eliminate is first. You don’t want to automate or delegate something that can be eliminated because it’s a non-productive task. Automate is next. You don’t want to delegate something that can be automated because it is more expensive and more prone to error.

I agree that eliminating non-value/low-value work should be done much more often. Automating makes a great deal of sense, though I would generalize it to process improvement. Automation is great: I think that is a specific form of process improvement – automation is wise, but maybe limiting. You improve productivity both by taking less time and by producing more effectively. If you produce something of more value to customers in the same time that improves productivity.

I also think there is another important area for people to think about – new ideas. Spending more time on something might seem counter-productive to productivity improvement. It takes time after all. Going and seeing what is really going on with your own eyes takes time, but trying to save time by acting based on reports results in ineffective and therefore unproductive action.

One of the things I first when looking at using internet technology to improve performance was that the technology opens new opportunities that were not feasible previously. People often focused just on how to improve what was done. People forget to look at things that were not pursued before that are now possible. With the time you save by eliminating, improving and delegating maybe you would get a big productivity improvement by coaching someone – or by being coached yourself. Or by reading about how to apply successful management improvement strategies that are too often ignored. Or you can learn about a new strategy that is more effective such as, combinatorial testing. Or learn to eliminate ineffective strategies such as: multitasking .

A number of “new ideas” are round about ways to eliminate work, in some form, though in a bit less direct way than people normally would consider elimination. For example, if you focus on reducing turnover, you can eliminate time spent bringing new people up to speed. If you make a process more reliable you can reduce the time spent dealing with the problems from a less reliable process.

The long term productivity benefits of improving performance, even if it requires more time today, will often be greater than the short term benefits. Don’t be too focused on productivity improvement today versus total productivity improvement over the next year. And remember that productivity improvement has 2 factors (production/time). You can increase productivity by decreasing the time spent by less than you decrease the output. Or you can increase the output. So improving processes to increase the useful output is a great way for managers to improve productivity – not just reducing time spent.

Related: Good Process Improvement PracticesHire People You Can Trust to Do Their JobEliminating Complexity from WorkBuilding a Great WorkforceBuild an Environment Where Intrinsic Motivation Flourishes

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2 Responses to Productivity Improvement for Entrepreneurs (and Everybody Else Really)

  1. Matt Wrye says:

    John –

    Great point about increasing productivity by delivering more value in the same amount of time. Not just focusing on reducing time can increase productivity greatly. The more you value you can drive with the same resources the better financial situation your company/organization will be in.

  2. Great additional insights John! I’m glad you liked the post.

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