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License to use the word Productivity


Lately I see a buzzword Productivity buzzing around everywhere within corporate, websites and blogs (even this blog is no exception). The word as such is not invented anywhere recently; it is in existence from 1612. I’m sure you are now wondering why this word got charm recently!!! All credit goes to Recession.

Well, very few people say they have to improve their personal productivity; in contrary many people say it is others who have to improve their productivity. Whoever be, the term Productivity applies to everyone in the corporate right from a team member till CXO’s of the company. This post is not about improving productivity but to explain what productivity is.

I got to quote a learning's from my friend: Earlier he used to stay late in office to meet the deadline which he is nearing to miss because of whatsoever reasons like wrong estimates or unforeseen risks and dependencies etc. After some how managing to achieve it, he proudly claimed to his manager that he has improved his productivity and reached the deadline successfully in spite of all hurdles which is otherwise impossible to achieve. He felt satisfied for his achievements.

It was then I explored the Personal Software Process (PSP), prioritizing tasks, assessing risks and dependencies, how relevant people have to be kept informed about the tasks and more importantly the value of each minute. These learning’s gave me the real insight of the term Productivity.

Mathematically, productivity is defined by the following formula;

Productivity = Output quality and quantity / Input quality and quantity

Productivity is said to be increasing only when the Output quality and quantity is increased with no or minimal change in the Input quality and quantity.

While I examine the earlier incidents with these learning, it uncovered the fact that he was decreasing the quality to give a false impression of higher productivity. The quality was degrading because of exhaustion of staying late nights, not prioritizing, not foreseeing risks and dependencies, unrealistic deadlines etc. Staying late nights is just to cover up someone’s mistakes, and not to increase productivity.

Hence the boundaries are defined for whom in a corporate are appropriate to use the term Productive. Be it a team member or a CXO’s, it is the one who only understand and increase the Output by maintain the steady Input are licensed to use Productivity.