Taylor’s Time and Motion study to enhance worker productivity was introduced in the early 20th century in the USA. Now we are in the 21st century. Despite all our advances and progress, measuring worker productivity continues unabated as reflected in the following NYT article: The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score: Across industries and incomes, more employees are being tracked, recorded and ranked. What is gained, companies say, is efficiency and accountability. What is lost? By Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram; Produced by Aliza Aufrichtig and Rumsey Taylor. Aug. 14, 2022 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/08/14/business/worker-productivity-tracking.html?
Following are couple of quotes from this NYT essay:
In lower-paying jobs, workplace monitoring has already been ubiquitous. But now, across industries and incomes, more employees are being tracked, recorded and ranked. “We’re in this era of measurement but we don’t know what we should be measuring,” said Ryan Fuller, former vice president for workplace intelligence at Microsoft.
The comment from the former Microsoft executive is telling. It speaks volumes on the quandary we all face in this “New Economy”, “Knowledge Economy”, “Digital World”, “Information Economy”, “Flat world”, “Globalization”, ………….. whatever you wish to call it? Any of these economic orders began their roots in the late 1970s and took a firm hold by the dawn of the 21st Century!
We refer your attention to two books that address this need to measure, assess and manage worker productivity at all levels in the 21st Century ! https://stimsinstitute.com/20151207books/
In the book published in the year 2000 – The System Approach – A strategy to survive and succeed in the global Economy – https://www.amazon.com/System-Approach-Modern-Machine-Books/dp/1569902550 we address the issue of Productivity at the enterprise level as well as the worker level:
“Globalization” requires a constant strive to improve productivity. If the productivity improvement is incremental – we shall call this a “Better Mousetrap” it is difficult to identify the benefit of such improvements. Frequently such incremental improvements may get lost in the “noise” or “variability” in measurements. The “noise” becomes larger as the factors and their measurements are considered on a worldwide basis.
On the other hand, if the productivity improvements are large or quantum in nature, we shall call them, “Different Mouse Trap.” If such advantage can be perceived on a worldwide basis, then such individual or enterprise remains successful in a “global” economy.
Any success in a “global” economy for any enterprise requires the following:
· Are there approaches or strategies that help to define the activity of the enterprise in terms of an “input/process/output” system with its associated value or benefit to the participants in the system?
· Once the input/process/output system is defined, are there approaches to achieve quantum improvement in the output of such systems?
From the above analysis (for details please see the book), a set of conclusions may also be drawn from the point of view of individual employees:
· There is a profound change in the workplace, where “task” oriented job functions are being eliminated and replaced by fewer “solution” oriented jobs.
· This change is occurring at all levels – from the lowest level worker to the highest executive in the organization.
· This diminishing employment opportunity can be managed through “shared sacrifice” thereby lowering the living standard of all involved.
In retrospect, after four decades we find this approach a loosing proposition, even dangerously challenging the vitality of the nation as a Democracy.
· Alternatively those few that find the means or ability to transition to a “problem solver” role or solution driven job function, survive and succeed in the changing employment marketplace.
· These “problem solvers” are often described as entrepreneurial, system oriented, holistic or ultra-preneurs.
In the subsequent sections of the book we describe the “System Approach” to define any job as a solution oriented activity. We also identify the parameters that belong to each aspect of the “system” and how to measure them!
Above views are not merely theoretical concepts. Instead they were reduced to practice and implemented as useful tools, which saved scores of jobs in a high attrition manufacturing work space. These productivity tools also helped scores of others to rise through the ranks, even as the organizational layers were reduced and flattened! This practical, results oriented outcome was further reduced into seven “Transformational Skills”. They are described in detail in a book published in the year 2013 titled: “Thriving in the 21st Century Economy – Transformational Skills for Technical Professionals”. https://www.amazon.com/Thriving-Century-Transformational-Technical-Professionals/dp/0791860167/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371673516&sr=1-1&keywords=Transformational+Skills+Subramanian
These Transformational Skills also offer means to measure and manage the productivity of workers in any profession in the current workforce. They are:
- Develop a “Common Language” – on the “What?” is required and “Why?” – these are the “Technical” and “System” outputs of the job, assignment or solution!
- Maintain and manage the “System View” of the job as a “Solution” – Input/Transformation/Output” System – and not a random collection of tasks.
- Emphasize on the integrated use of three Dimensions of Core Capabilities:
- Individual: Knowledge, Experience and People Skills
- Project / Team: Science, Engineering (Application of Science) and Management (Operations and Strategy)
- Solution / Enterprise: Physical Technology, Digital Technology and Market/need drivers.
- Relentless focus on Data, its analysis and use. More Digital, the better!
- Develop an Ecosystem that promotes and fosters items 1 to 4 above. It is never lonely out there!
- Emphasis on End to End Innovation – Define/Discover X Develop X Deploy / Implement. In the above equation, if the value is Zero for anyone of the three parameters, the overall score is Zero!
- Emotional Intelligence: Win with others! Winning only for one’s sake is never sustainable nor satisfactory in the long run. After all, you are a human being!