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Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

HOW “EFFECTIVE” WERE YOU TODAY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 30, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– There is an important difference between effectiveness and efficiency.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

“Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency” – Bryce’s Law

INTRODUCTION

Okay, you believe you had a great day at work today; that you accomplished a lot. Maybe you did. Then again, maybe you didn’t do as much as you might think. A lot of people believe just because they are a model of efficiency, they are being highly productive. This is simply not true. We have discussed the concept of productivity on more than one occasion in this column, but some trends in the business world have caused me to revisit it again.

Perhaps the biggest problem here is that people fallaciously equate efficiency with productivity. They are most definitely not synonymous. Efficiency is concerned with speed of delivery, reduced errors, and minimal costs or effort. In other words, how fast we can perform a given task, at reduced costs, without committing any substantial errors in the process. But what if we are performing the wrong task at the wrong time? Obviously this would be counterproductive regardless how efficiently we performed the task. I always use the example of industrial robots on an assembly line, whereby they can perform tasks such as welding very efficiently. However, if they are welding the wrong thing at the wrong time, they are counterproductive.

This means there are two variables involved with productivity: efficiency and effectiveness. Whereas efficiency primarily deals with speed and “doing things right,” effectiveness is concerned with “doing the right things.” In other words, working on assignments in the right sequence. Sequence can be defined for a single project by its work breakdown structure (WBS) and precedent relationships, or for working on multiple projects based on priority.

ANALYZE THIS

To better understand the differences between effectiveness versus efficiency, I have developed an MS Excel spreadsheet where you can test your own personal productivity. Click HERE to download.

In the first part, I ask you to assess your sense of efficiency for the day; for example:
– I was a dynamo today; worked fast, no errors.
– I did more than my share, not too many mistakes.
– I did my fair share, average number of mistakes.
– I was below average, some mistakes.
– Had a bad day; too many mistakes, a lot of time lost.

Next, I ask you to consider your current work assignments in priority order. In other words, consider the projects you worked on from the highest to lowest priority. In some cases, people may have only one work assignment, which is fine.

Following this, I want you to account for your time during the day; both the time spent on project assignments, as well as indirect activities (such as attending meetings, breaks, checking e-mail, etc.). In other words, the interferences or activities not directly related to your work assignments. Be honest now, everybody spends time during the day on such indirect activities. By the way, on the average, office workers spend 70% of their time on direct project work and 30% on interferences.

The spreadsheet will then calculate a productivity rating based on the time spent on projects in priority sequence, and taking into account time spent on interferences.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

The spreadsheet provides a convenient way to understand how productivity should be calculated. It is far from scientific (for example, the efficiency rating is crudely estimated without any level of precision). Nonetheless, the productivity number highlights the differences between efficiency and effectiveness.

I have seen companies who like to plot efficiency ratings on a graph, but as far as I am concerned the data is misleading as they only portray a glimpse of a much larger picture. Plotting the effectiveness rating is just as important as the efficiency rating and helps produce a realistic productivity rating.

CONCLUSION

Some workers, particularly craftsmen, understand the differences between efficiency and effectiveness. They appreciate the total process for building something and are acutely aware of the potential risk for cutting corners. Some simply don’t get it (and probably never will). For example, the Information Technology industry commonly misunderstands this concept and is obsessed with efficiency. As evidence, consider the use of “Agile Methodologies” today which are quick and dirty approaches for writing a program. Here, a rudimentary program is developed, then radically refined over time until the client signs-off on it. Proponents consider Agile Methodologies to be a quantum leap forward in terms of productivity. I don’t. True, they can write code fast, but because they are not well structured, a lot of time is spent revising designs and rewriting code, not just once but several times. Instead of getting it right the first time, Agile Methodologies rely on the efficiency of their power programming tools to make them look good.

So what is a good productivity rating? First, let’s dispense with the notion of 100% productivity. This is purely a myth. This would mean that everyone in a company is being both highly effective and efficient around the clock. This is simply not possible. Actually, 25% is considered a good rating and is typical for a lot of companies.

If this paper has done nothing more than raise your consciousness about the differences between effectiveness and efficiency, then it has served its purpose. Hopefully, it will cause you to refocus your efforts on “doing the right things” as opposed to just “doing things right.”

So, how “effective” were you today? Your answer will say a lot.

As a footnote; If you are familiar with my writings on “PRIDE” Project Management, you have heard me talk about “Effectiveness Rate” in differentiating the use of time. What I am describing herein is not the same thing; similar, but not quite. Under the Project Management scenario “effectiveness rate” is an availability rating which is used for estimating and scheduling, but not for calculating productivity.

First published: August 21, 2006

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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HOW ‘EFFECTIVE’ WERE YOU TODAY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 24, 2010

Okay, you believe you had a great day at work today; that you accomplished a lot. And maybe you did. Then again, maybe you didn’t do as much as you might think. A lot of people believe just because they are a model of efficiency, they are being highly productive. This is simply not true. We have discussed the concept of productivity on more than one occasion in this column, but some trends in the I.T. industry have spurred me to revisit it again.

Perhaps the biggest problem here is that people fallaciously equate efficiency with productivity. They are most definitely not synonymous. Efficiency is concerned with speed of delivery, reduced errors, and minimal costs or effort. In other words, how fast we can perform a given task, at reduced costs, without committing any substantial errors in the process. Consider this though, what if we are performing the wrong task at the wrong time? Obviously this would be counterproductive regardless how efficiently we performed the task. I always use the example of industrial robots on an assembly line, whereby they can perform tasks such as welding very efficiently. However, if they are welding the wrong thing at the wrong time, they are counterproductive.

This means there are two variables involved with productivity: efficiency and effectiveness. Whereas efficiency primarily deals with speed and “doing things right,” effectiveness is concerned with “doing the right things.” In other words, working on assignments in the right sequence. Sequence can be defined for a single project by its work breakdown structure (WBS) and precedent relationships, or for working on multiple projects based on priority.

ANALYZE THIS

To illustrate this point, let’s consider your work activity today (either perform this analysis at the end of the day, or for your last business day). Write this down on a piece of paper:

1. First, let’s define your EFFICIENCY rating for the day; as guidelines, use the following:

1.00 – I was a dynamo today; worked fast, no errors.

.75 – I did more than my share, not too many mistakes.

.50 – I did my fair share, average number of mistakes.

.25 – I was below average, some mistakes.

.00 – Had a bad day; too many mistakes, a lot of time lost.

Enter your EFFICIENCY rating here: __________ (enter any number from 1:00 High to .00 Low)

2. Make a list of your work assignments IN PRIORITY SEQUENCE; (list at least your top five assignments, regardless if it is within a single project or involving multiple projects; obviously you may have more assignments, but let’s limit it to five for the purpose of this exercise):

  1. __________________________________
  2. __________________________________
  3. __________________________________
  4. __________________________________
  5. __________________________________

3. Account for your time during the day using the following variables. Be honest.A. WHAT WERE YOUR “TOTAL HOURS IN DAY” (THD) (The total number of hours spent at work)

___________ hours

B. Of the THD, how much time was spent on interferences or activities not directly related to your work assignments (e.g., breaks, lunch, meetings, reading, surfing the web, e-mail, correspondence, telephone, travel between appointments, etc.)?

___________ hours

C. Enter the number of hours spent during the day on your top five priorities (enter “0″ if you didn’t work on something); then compute the extended number according to the equation shown:

HOURS                                     EXTENDED

#1 Priority    (___________  / THD) X 1.00 = ___________

#2 Priority    (___________  / THD) X  .90 = ___________

#3 Priority    (___________  / THD) X  .80 = ___________

#4 Priority    (___________  / THD) X  .70 = ___________

#5 Priority    (___________  / THD) X  .60 = ___________

Note: The hours reported here, coupled with the time recorded for interferences (“B”), must equal the Total Hours in Day (THD). Also, the rates used in the computation are based on priority (highest to lowest).4. Add the EXTENDED numbers of all five priorities: ___________ (This is your “Effectiveness” rating)

To illustrate this point, let’s consider your work activity today. To do so, let’s consider the following EXAMPLE:

A. WHAT WERE YOUR “TOTAL HOURS IN DAY” (THD):

8 HOURS

B. Of the THD, how much time was spent on interferences or activities not directly related to your work assignments (e.g., breaks, lunch, meetings, reading, surfing the web, e-mail, correspondence, telephone, travel between appointments, etc.)?

2 HOURS

C. Enter the number of hours spent during the day on your top five priorities (enter “0″ if you didn’t work on something); then compute the extended number according to the equation shown:

HOURS           EXTENDED

#1 Priority    (1 / THD) X 1.00 = .125

#2 Priority    (1 / THD) X   .90 = .1125

#3 Priority    (0 / THD) X   .80 = 0

#4 Priority    (0 / THD) X   .70 = 0

#5 Priority    (4 / THD) X  .60 = .3

(This is your “Effectiveness” rating)

PRODUCTIVITY = EFFECTIVENESS X EFFICIENCY

Let’s put it all together now and compute our Productivity. Let’s first start with our example; let’s assume we had a pretty good work day and our Efficiency rating (as defined in step #1) was .75. When we multiply it against our Effectiveness rate, we get .403125 .

Next, let’s compute YOUR numbers:

__________  EFFICIENCY (from #1)
X   __________  EFFECTIVENESS (from #4)
__________  PRODUCTIVITY

To calculate your own productivity rating, see our “MBA Daily Productivity Analyzer” on our web page:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/mba/mbaprod.htm

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

This is but a simple example. It is far from scientific (for example, the efficiency rating is crudely estimated without any level of precision). Nonetheless, the Productivity number highlights the differences between Efficiency and Effectiveness. Using the numbers in our example, if we were to use a perfect 1.00 Efficiency rating (as opposed to .75), the worker’s Productivity rating would not be any higher than .5375. This is because the worker spent time on interferences/distractions and worked on other priorities that perhaps he should not have.

I have seen companies who like to plot efficiency ratings on a graph, but as far as I am concerned the data is misleading as they only portray a glimpse of a much larger picture. Plotting the effectiveness rating is just as important as the efficiency rating and helps produce a realistic productivity rating.

CONCLUSION

Some workers, particularly craftsmen, understand the differences between efficiency and effectiveness. They appreciate the total process for building something and are acutely aware of the potential risk for cutting corners. Some simply don’t get it (and probably never will). For example, the I.T. industry commonly misunderstands this concept and is obsessed with efficiency. As evidence, consider the use of “Agile Methodologies” today which are quick and dirty approaches for writing a program. Here, a rudimentary program is developed, then radically refined over time until the client signs-off on it. Proponents consider Agile Methodologies to be a quantum leap forward in terms of productivity. I don’t. True, they can write code fast, but because they are not well structured, a lot of time is spent revising designs and rewriting code, not just once but several times. Instead of getting it right the first time, Agile Methodologies rely on the efficiency of their power programming tools to make them look good.

So what is a good productivity rating? First, let’s dispense with the notion of 100% productivity. This is purely a myth. This would mean that everyone in a company is being both highly effective and efficient around the clock. This is simply not possible. Our example herein shows a productivity rating of 40% which is probably closer to reality. In fact, 25% is considered a good rating and is typical for a lot of companies.

If this paper has done nothing more than raise your consciousness about the differences between effectiveness and efficiency, then it has served its purpose. Hopefully, it will cause you to refocus your efforts on “doing the right things” as opposed to just “doing things right.”

So, how “effective” were you today? Your answer will say a lot.

As a footnote; If you are familiar with my writings on “PRIDE” Project Management, you have heard me talk about “Effectiveness Rate” in differentiating the use of time. What I am describing herein is not the same thing; similar, but not quite. Under the Project Management scenario “effectiveness rate” is an availability rating which is used for estimating and scheduling, but not for calculating productivity.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see: http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PRODUCTIVITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 27, 2009

If you lookup the word “Productivity” in a dictionary, you’ll probably find something like, “The rate at which goods or services are produced, especially output per unit of labor.” This implies the best way to improve productivity is through speed. There is no consideration for mistakes made or challenging the process by which something is produced, just speed. This is one of the most fallacious concepts common to American manufacturing and I see it just about everywhere, not only in the corporate sector.

For many years, our company has touted the following formula:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

To produce anything, be it a product or service, there are two aspects to consider, not just one: “Doing the right things” (effectiveness), and, “Doing things right (efficiency). Whereas efficiency is concerned with process speed, effectiveness considers the necessity of the task itself. For example, in an assembly line, robotics offer faster speed in performing tasks such as welding, but if the weld is being performed at the wrong time or in the wrong place, then it is counterproductive regardless how fast it works. In other words, in addition to speed, we should be challenging the whole process (“Doing the right things”).

Effectiveness addresses more than just business processes though, it is also concerned with the work product to be produced. After all, there is little point in building something efficiently that should never have been built at all. To illustrate, there is no doubt in my mind the automobile industry in Detroit knows how to make cars efficiently, but it has become painfully obvious they were building the wrong cars. What’s the point of putting something on a menu that nobody is going to order? While Detroit focused on efficiency, foreign competition concentrated on building the right products and captured the American market.

We also see this difference of effectiveness and efficiency in our daily lives. For example, you may believe you had a great day at work; that you accomplished a lot, and maybe you did. Then again, maybe you didn’t do as much as you might think. A lot of people believe just because they were a model of efficiency, they were being highly productive, but were they working on the right things? To quantify your personal productivity, I devised a simple calculator to compute your personal productivity which can be found at:

Bryce Daily Productivity Analyzer

Why are Americans consumed by efficiency and not effectiveness? Probably because we do a lousy job of planning and, as a result, routinely find ourselves in a crisis mode impatient for results. Not surprising, the emphasis in this country is on speed, speed, and more speed! Or as American programmers like to say, let’s not waste time on planning, let’s simply be more “Agile.” I don’t care how you try to spin it, “Quick and Dirty” is “Quick and Dirty.” Quite often you hear workers lament, “We don’t have time to do it right,” which, when translated means, “We have plenty of time to do it wrong.” Our foreign competitors are the antithesis of this mindset and spend more time planning and, in the process, are capturing the American market.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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SHOW ME THE PROOF!

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 5, 2009

On more than one occasion you have heard me express my skepticism on the beneficial effects of technology on our culture. Proponents obviously claim it has a positive effect, and proudly point at the capacity, speed, and sizzle embedded in such things as computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices, but I’m still not convinced. For example:

  • We can communicate with anyone on the planet at any time from just about anywhere (and too often we do), yet we haven’t got anything useful to say or say it at the wrong time and place. Further, our command of the English language is slipping, newspapers and magazines are failing, and book publishing is sharply diminishing, thereby indicating a decline in reading.

  • We can now write beautiful documents, but our grammar and spelling seems to be degenerating. People may know how to send text messages, but have difficulty composing an effective business letter.

  • Our automobiles now offer abundant luxuries through electronics, but the cost to repair and maintain them has skyrocketed.

  • We can now purchase items and make travel reservations on-line, thereby displacing this function from trained travel agents and sales clerks with better skills and knowledge to process such things. Inevitably the customer purchases the wrong thing or makes an error in processing the order, which is difficult to correct (and very frustrating).

  • Technology may give us in edge in warfare; but you first have to have a well trained and determined soldier to pull the trigger.

  • Computers were supposed to be a boom for office productivity but consider how much time is lost tweaking and rebooting MS Windows alone. Further, computers were supposed to cut down on paper; but sales at the paper mills appears to be doing just fine, as well as robust sales of copiers, printers and cartridges.

If our technology is so good, it would make sense that we would see a noticeable leap in productivity in our country. However, if you study the statistics at the US Department of Labor, output has actually been declining over the last ten years in just about every industrial sector. Those sectors showing an upswing can hardly be described as “dramatic.”

If there is a statistic to show how technology improves productivity. the US Department of Labor certainly doesn’t have it, nor does anyone else for that matter, which is why I continue to say, “Show me the proof!” Frankly, you cannot because there is more to productivity than technology. To me, technology simply represents the tools we use at work and home, and like any tool we can either use it properly or improperly (like shooting ourselves in the foot). Even the finest tool in the wrong hands will produce inferior results. This implies there is more to productivity than the technology itself, that it depends on how the human being uses it. In other words, management is an integral part of the equation, and something that has been sorely lacking in recent times, as indicated by our current recession.

Consider this, number crunching has always been one of the prime benefits of computing. If this is true, then why does it take so long to compile a financial report or budget? After all, everything should be available at the push of a button, right? Unfortunately, corporations and government agencies, operate with poorly designed systems and data bases, thereby the reliability of data is doubtful, thus requiring rechecking.

Productivity should not be measured simply by how fast we perform a given task (efficiency), but the necessity of the task itself should also be examined (effectiveness). After all, there is nothing more unproductive than to build something efficiently that should never have been built at all.

Let me exemplify this another way; the general perception in this country is that America no longer knows how to build automobiles, that the quality is not good. I disagree. Americans know how to build good reliable products as demonstrated by the Americans working in Japanese automotive factories. The difference is in building the right products. Whereas American companies focused on luxury and gas-guzzling cars, the Japanese were busy building economical and fuel-efficient automobiles (as were other countries). Here, it is not a matter of how well we build a product, but is it the right product to build in the first place?

More than anything, technology is a reflection of our standard of living. We have always had technology, we will always have it, and it will constantly change and evolve with us. However, over the last thirty years we have witnessed an explosion in technology that has permeated our society and changed our culture. It was triggered by such things as the Cold War and other military interventions, space exploration, medical research, and global competition in business. Technology came at us so fast and furious that a lot of people had trouble assimilating it, thereby causing a noticeable frustration factor. In all likelihood we probably use only a small fraction of our technology properly (which would be another interesting statistic). For example, how intimate are you with all of the features of your cell phone, computer, TV, digital camera, or even your sprinkler system? Are you using them to their full potential? Probably not.

It has always been my argument that as technology increases, socialization skills decreases. The more we depend on technology to fulfill basic functions like mathematics, communications, spelling, etc., the lazier the human brain becomes. Technology may be fun to use and play with, and can indeed provide tremendous mechanical leverage for humans, but be wary of how it is used and avoid dependencies. Regardless of your pride and prowess with technology, please don’t tell me it improves productivity. The jury is still out.

“I don’t know a thing about computers and I’m the happiest guy on the Earth.”
– Louis Vavoularis, Palm Harbor, FL

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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