Transforming the ordinary to the extraordinary

Productivity is not about using of manpower. That is a wrong or perverse way of looking at productivity. It is a very mechanical view which has prevailed so far, particularly in economies endowed with cheap labor and abundant natural resources. It is generally misunderstood that the advancement of science and technology is going to make the world more mechanical by reducing dependence on labor, staff and the consequent ‘problems’ that need to be solved. But, contrary to these predictions, the factory of the future will not be a monument to the triumph of technology over human beings. Instead of a zero sum relationship between technical and social systems, where every advance in technology would require a reduction in human being importance, a positive sum relationship would merge. Increasing input of technology is supposed to give speed of response and flexibility. But, this speed and flexibility, in turn, requires a work force that is more skilled, more informed, with better understanding of the organization’s vision, values and direction, and with a much greater empowerment. In order to ensure this they should be trained adequately. Training can also foster team spirit and group effectiveness.

It should also be realized that in the coming future, more and more workers will demand supervisory tasks and supervisors will demand managerial task. It is challenge of the future that while cutting down on the managerial hierarchy, the organizations will have to meet the aspirations of the workers/staff to be effective managers of the organizations. The management has to let go of a substantial share of its responsibilities to its workforce. As Peter Drucker the world renowned management consultant said: The purpose of an organization is to enable ordinary human beings to do extraordinary things. In one of the Human Resources Conferences, the Managing Director of Timex Watches (India) mentioned how in his company young high school dropout women have been trained to do complex computer based jobs for which normally computer graduates are hired in other organizations.

Pursuit of Excellence:

Productivity is talking more and more the meaning of excellence, which has to come about in all types and levels of jobs and responsibilities improving productivity would mean encouraging excellence.

An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher, the society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

A commitment to excellence means to constantly strive for producing the highest possible. It means continuous improvement. In such a case, ‘standards’ for productivity may come in the way of pursuing excellence. Because standards prescribe what is ‘good enough’ unless a standard is not seen as a rigid concept. Standards should be there for the very purpose of better future transformation. A standard should be the base line from which further improvements can be made.

We cannot escape the fact that productivity and society are closely linked, just as the organization and the society are inseparable. The society’s as also the organization’s thinking determines productivity. Productivity is definitely contributed to by improved methods, procedures, techniques and systems but, it is much more than that. Productivity is a state of mind. And the state of mind should be to excel and through this excellence to please the customer, contribute to the society while ensuring that the organization survives and thrives. It should be everybody’s endeavor to create a state of mind self and then in others.

Measures to increase Productivity:

So, what needs to be done in order to increase productivity? Here is a partial list:

* Be clear about your organization’s mission i.e. what contribution it wants to/can make to the society. Who your customer is, or should be, depends upon this decision.
* Be proactive and chart out organization’s direction to provide service to the customer.
* Have goals and values of common consent. Make sure that the needs of the individual and the organization correlate well with each other. Create a sense of belongingness. Encourage team work.
* Empower the people involved.
* Make value based decisions.
* Once the philosophy, values attitudes, and intent are established, make use of the relevant productivity techniques and measures including the conventional and modern like BPR and benchmarking.
* Learn from failures and allow other to learn from experimentation and failures.
*Make the organization as flexible as possible.