Productivity Isn’t Just About Being Streamline

The emphasis on productivity in our local context has sparked some reflections. Productivity can be seen as a ratio of the rewards gained to the effort expended. In essence, you can exert less effort yet still maintain the same level of reward, which, by definition, makes you productive.

However, this perspective opens up a few noteworthy considerations. Achieving high efficiency can lead to high productivity without necessarily translating to profit. To paraphrase a common saying, it’s better to be inefficient and wealthy than highly efficient but financially poor. While efficiency generally implies reduced costs and potentially higher profit margins, there’s a risk of becoming overly efficient at the cost of seeking out more valuable work. In extreme cases, this is akin to a diet that’s so effective it becomes harmful.

Another point to ponder is the impact of efficiency on the broader economy, especially through automation. Increased efficiency could mean hiring fewer, possibly less expensive employees, which might reduce tax contributions, affecting government funding and GDP. A reduced financial flow in the economy can lead to less investment in job creation, training, and development, potentially initiating a cycle that negatively impacts tax revenues and GDP growth.

The move towards automation or AI and the trend of outsourcing work to cheaper jurisdictions present a dilemma. Many organizations, including governments, are opting to procure services from abroad if they’re more cost-effective, challenging the balance between fiscal responsibility and local economic support. This approach undoubtedly benefits the economy of the cheaper jurisdiction but can adversely affect the GDP of the local economy.

The argument that AI will create higher-value jobs requires scrutiny. If what once took 20 accountants can now be managed by AI, it doesn’t necessarily mean these accountants will become or equal the need for programmers. This shift results in fewer people employed, diminishing income tax revenue, which in turn affects government funding for social services.

As a proponent of efficient and effective policies, procedures, and processes, and with expertise in lean six Sigma and experience as a sports performance coach and athlete, I value efficiency and effectiveness as keys to success. However, this isn’t a critique of productivity itself but a call to approach it with mindfulness. Enhancing productivity might as much involve increasing the volume and value of work as it does reducing service costs. Using an analogy, no matter how aerodynamically optimized I make myself and my bicycle, without the physical strength to propel it forward, the benefits of streamlining are moot.

Tim HJ Rogers
Consult | CoCreate | Deliver

I support people and teams to grow, perform and succeed unlocking potential as a partner Consultant, Coach, Project and Change Manager. Together we can deliver projects and change, and improve the confidence, capacity, drive and desire of the people I work with.

ICF Trained Coach | MBA Management Consultant | PRINCE2 Project Manager, Agile Scrum Master | AMPG Change Practitioner | Mediation Practitioner | BeTheBusiness Mentor | 4 x GB Gold Medalist | First Aid for Mental Health | Certificate in Applied Therapeutic Skills

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