Poor definitions of productivity

October 2022

Productivity is often poorly defined or misaligned.

Poor definition of successful outcomes by leaders and managers results in the perception that productivity is lacking. Same for poor understanding of successful processes and iterative work. Same for poor understanding of scope and moving goal posts.

There's also the question of ownership and challenge. If an employee isn't given feasibly-maximal ownership over the outcomes of their work, combined with a sober dose of accountability, they can't be expected to focus on the right things. They will naturally optimize for process fit.

Employees aren't off the hook though. Many don't take the extra logical step to reframe their priorities in terms of value delivery to customers rather than themselves. There's a tempting comfort zone of known types of work that we are more than happy to fall back on and consider ourselves as doing our best.

An employee may feel productive because they're doing something within their role. Or because they're finishing tasks. Or because they're delivering "something."

None of which by default necessarily translate to actual value delivered to the business or its customers.

There's a lot to be learned and improved across the board.