deepstash

Beta

The dark history of our obsession with productivity

The Productivity Gurus

  • Michael Porter exalted the leadership of productive management practices.
  • Bill Smith, an engineer at Motorola, introduced the Six Sigma Method in 1986. It is a disciplined, data-driven approach for eliminating defects in any process. According to Six Sigma, productivity is more than revenues and profits, because profits reflect the end result, while productivity reflects the increased efficiency as well as the effectiveness of business policies and processes.

54 SAVES


This is a professional note extracted from an online article.

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything

IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The dark history of our obsession with productivity

The dark history of our obsession with productivity

https://www.fastcompany.com/90230330/how-our-obsession-with-productivity-evolved

fastcompany.com

7

Key Ideas

Productivity Obsession

As workers, we are obsessed with getting stuff done. It is then clear why there seems to be a bottomless well full of advice, hacks, tools, tricks, and secrets to help us pack more into the waking hours.

According to IBISWorld research, productivity software alone accounts for an $82 billion market.

Modern History of Productivity

  • Adam Smith wrote in 1776 that there are two kinds of labor: productive and unproductive. The productive one generally adds value to the materials which he works upon, of his own maintenance, and his master's profit. However, a man grows poor by maintaining a multitude of menial servants who add to the value of nothing.
  • Benjamin Franklin put forth his own "to-do" list in 1791, stating that one should start the day asking what good shall be done and end the day evaluating what was accomplished.

Abuse Masked as Productivity

In the late 18th and early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution, machines moved production from handmade in the home to factories. A frenzy of producing more goods more quickly became a kind of national pastime.

Low-wage factory workers, many of whom were children, toiled in unsafe conditions for decades before labor unions put measures in place to protect workers from the excesses of the push for productivity.

The Day Planner

By 1850, day planners were proliferating. Productivity became inexorably linked to the virtue of working hard.

Etiquette manuals of the era suggested that the daily planner was a means for self-improvement.

The Birth of Consultants

  • Frederick Winslow Taylor, an industrial engineer and efficiency expert, would get himself a consulting gig with a company, observe the workers, and calculate how they could do their jobs faster.
  • Best known as the parents of Cheaper by the Dozen, Peers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were mining productivity by dividing human action into 17 motions and then determining which was the most efficient and effective way to do any task.

The Productivity Gurus

  • Michael Porter exalted the leadership of productive management practices.
  • Bill Smith, an engineer at Motorola, introduced the Six Sigma Method in 1986. It is a disciplined, data-driven approach for eliminating defects in any process. According to Six Sigma, productivity is more than revenues and profits, because profits reflect the end result, while productivity reflects the increased efficiency as well as the effectiveness of business policies and processes.

Current state of productivity

In the frenzy to be more productive, we have become less so.

The procedures and methods in use are over a decade old. Until more robots and AI are incorporated to take over rote tasks, the downward trend will continue.

EXPLORE MORE AROUND THESE TOPICS:

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The concept of Inbox Zero

'Inbox Zero' is a concept introduced by Merlin Mann, a way to handle your email by processing them to zero.

This is achieved by taking appropriate actions like filing, noting or replying, to ...

The Quest for Personal Productivity

The never-ending quest for personal productivity has spawned countless apps on the Smartphone App stores, and many bestseller books.

Personal Productivity has branched out in the field of dating, hotel stays, parenting and even eating.

Problems With 'Inbox Zero'

The people who implemented the 'Inbox Zero; method ended up getting more emails as they were replying to all their emails, with increased activity.

They also paradoxically started checking the inbox more often.

The anxiety levels increased by applying hyper-productivity.

2 more ideas

Measuring Employee Productivity
Measuring Employee Productivity

Fixing employee productivity in the industrial age, when most workers were handling machinery and it’s parts, was a tedious but doable process. The managers had to fix the people who were making mi...

The Old Productivity Formula

The basic productivity formula(productivity= output divided by input) worked well in the industrial age as the output and input were clearly defined and measurable.

Today’s leaders need innovative solutions to measure and improve productivity in a knowledge-based workplace, as the measurement of output and input is not what it was.

Quality And Quantity

While assigning value to the output of knowledge workers, we cannot simply measure the output like before.

Coders and doctors cannot be measured by the hour, as their output is not uniform or consistent every hour.

8 more ideas

Get a good night’s rest

The first key to productivity: getting enough sleep. 7-8 hours of sleep a night will improve into your work, from sharper decision making and problem-solving, to better coping with chan...

Drink some coffee at work

Caffeine has a range of positive impacts beyond keeping you awake: from increased alertness and reaction time to improved learning, memory, and even mood. 

And coffee isn’t just effective on a chemical level: scheduling coffee breaks so that the entire team took it at the same time increased productivity.

Take regular break

Taking breaks during the workday is important for workers to replace workplace “resources” - energy, motivation, and concentration

These resources are limited and they need “charging” by doing activities that require less effort or use different resources than normal work or are just something the worker enjoys.

2 more ideas