Posted tagged ‘Productivity’

You can be efficient with things but you can only be effective with people

May 2, 2010

I really love my clients…they are all so eclectic and so varied. They have a unique way of thinking and my role as their guide is always interesting, stimulating and challenging.

This past week presented an unusual opportunity and I wanted to share it with you. It reminded me of one of my favorite management aphorisms — “You can be efficient with things but you can only be effective with people.”

This particular CEO is remarkably gifted. He can see both the vision of where he wishes to go and he knows the steps he must take to get there. When someone is this gifted, he or she tends to move faster than those around him. This particular leader is busy – no make that very busy. He’s always onto the next plan and how to lead the team there. Fortunately, he builds his team with equally fast thinkers and implementers so he is very effective in producing results.

But when he does demos of his products, he speeds through them. You can almost sense a palpable catching of the breath on the other side of the web ex or go to meeting demo as his audience tries to keep up. And frankly they can’t…which brings us to today’s aphorism.

Efficiency is about time, effectiveness is about getting the result that you want.

You can speed up equipment, you can accelerate a process but no matter what you try, people will ALWAYS learn at their own pace. Understanding this human element is critical to being effective whether it be in presentation, motivation, education or just plain-old discussion…and it certainly applies to every relationship that is worth building.

“You can be efficient with things but you can only be effective with people.”

Documenting Processes Create Opportunities

March 11, 2010

Documenting processes is typically a very good idea. Here are a couple of reasons.

(1) It clarifies what needs to be done in each process and allows you to eliminate unnecessary steps thereby increasing productivity and saving staff time and associated costs

(2) It is useful for training new staff; In fact the process flows can be part of an orientation program

(3) It allows the company to identify time consuming steps that would benefit from automation

(4) When selecting new software, it allows you to test the software in the context of what you actually do rather than the features of the software. In fact, the candidate software company can prove their mettle by showing where they add value by eliminating steps and improving workflow in addition to their features.

(5) If you are in a business that is heavily regulated, this documentation is typically prized and can be used as a sales tool to demonstrate the discipline in the business

As to how often they should be done and reviewed – and for the reasons noted above – I’d recommend that this be treated as living documentation and used regularly when making changes to the way work is performed, software created etc. This effort is only valuable if it becomes part of the company fabric and has a purpose.

I just completed a project where I managed the process flow analysis of a 300 person company and designed a software assessment process for them. I’d be happy to talk with anyone who wishes to discuss this further (david_blumenthal@msn.com)

Types of Measures

February 20, 2009

There are three types of measures:

1. Activity measures

2. Output measures

3. Impact measures

Activity measures tells us how efficiently something was done. It answers questions such as:

  • How long does it take?
  • How productive is the department?
  • How many resources were used?

It focuses us on internal tasks, timing and resources but it is NOT about outcomes. As an example, profitability is an activity measure because it relates incoming revenue to internal operational costs. It measures the efficiency within which resources are utilized to produce income.

You’ll find activity measures are usually used with internal operations groups and frequently these are the measures used for multiple phases of processes

Output Measures emphasize the results of the work rather than the work activities themselves. Outputs tend to be physical products, services and communications that one group sends to another. These types of measures answers questions about what has been produced such as:

  • Does the product meet quality standards?
  • Was the product sent on time?
  • Was the product delivered on time?
  • Was the customer satisfied?

Output measures are about products NOT about production. They gauge quality, timeliness and evaluation by the CUSTOMER or USERS and therefore the measuring source is usually outside of the group producing the output.

Customer satisfaction is an output measure that requires obtaining feedback from outside the organization (this can be a customer internal or external to the organization.) Most output measures are using internal standards. These measures are useful when you are interested in whether the results meet certain standards.

My personal favorite is the last of our set and the one the President and our legislative leaders truly want to cause.

Impact measures ALWAYS require feedback or customer research to develop meaningful measures. So what is the difference between customer satisfaction measures and impact measures?

Customer satisfaction measures what the customer likes. Impact measures what the product does for the customer. It is all about value.

Impact measures answers questions such as:

  • Does the product make the customer more productive?
  • More successful?
  • Do the services make the customer more effective?
  • More influential?
  • Do the products help the customers reach their goals?

These measures require serious examination of the customer because there is no other way to get information about the customer’s productivity, success measures or goals without their input and evaluation.

Most important it shifts the focus to “What do you need from us to help you succeed on your own measures of success?” This type of measure alters relationships and makes what you achieve more valuable.

It makes you realize exactly what is the point of what we do.

Living into Your Vision

September 10, 2008

Author and management consultant Peter Block once defined a vision as “a dream created in our waking hours of how we would like our lives to be.” In fact, the word “vison” comes from the Latin word “videre” which means “to see.” It is a picture of the future that we wish to create.

When creating a vision, it is important to articulate it in the present tense. There is a certain dissonance and even a feeling of being uncomfortable when you say you are “something” and you know that you are not. If a vision is expressed in future terms (i.e. “we will do this”), it becomes too easy to say that capability is far into the future and we don’t have to begin thinking, feeling or doing anything that is consistent with our vision.

Feeling uncomfortable when creating a vision is actually the way that one should feel. Noted management guru, Tom Peters, called creating a vision a very “messy artistic process.”

So how does one go about creating a vision – or as I like to refer to it, your personal “impossible dream?”

One begins by asking this question – What would we like to see our company offering, providing or meeting five years from now as it relates to…?

  • Customers
  • Services
  • Organization and employees
  • Professionalism
  • Facilities
  • Productivity
  • Financial structure
  • Standards
  • Partnerships / Synergisms
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Not for Profits should add in “Community Needs” and “Volunteer Organization”

Here are some other questions to ponder:

  • What would you personally like to see your organization become?
  • What kind of customers would it have?
  • What sort of processes might it conduct?
  • What reputation would it have?
  • What contribution would it make?
  • What sort of products or services would it produce?
  • What values would it embody?
  • What mission would it have?
  • What would its physical environment look like?
  • How would people work together?
  • How would people handle good and bad times?
  • If you had this sort of organization what would it bring you? How would it allow your own personal vision to flourish?

Answering these questions will allow you to begin to see clearly what needs to be done.

And isn’t that what having a vision is all about?


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