Productivity Redefined

Cyborg M4p1
Image: Javier Roche
Usually when we think about productivity we always define it as output per unit of time. We are constantly doing our best to improve efficiency to increase the output per unit of time. This has also been the sales pitch of many IT investments.

In 25 years of business automation we first automated the easy stuff, simple transactions got automated. We used robots, computers to take over the simple tasks from humans. Many of these task were tedious and nobody really objected when machines took over. People could now focus on the fun and challenging stuff.

Next business automation started to address the processes in an organization. The robots and computers already managed the individual transactions and with little adjustment (of the humans) they could also starting to optimize the processes between the transactions. People needed to become more like machines and needed to change their way of working to fit the machines. People got more controlled by the machines impacting the fun at work.

Today we see a huge emerge of social software, helping people to maintain social relationships aided by information technology. For many it provides valuable information, builds deeper relations and it's fun! The fun, usually related to entertainment, also has cause a fears debate on this social stuff being a productivity killer and should be banned. Banning social computing and removing the fun factor would fit in the trend of slowly transforming people into robots and controlling their lives, just look at the history of business automation.

Well I've a different viewpoint. First it's just not possible to continue to squeeze more productivity out of people, there is a limit on how far you can go. Second, the fun factor is the new productivity booster!

We all have this, you are busy with something and completely forget about the time. You feel as if you just started, but already you have been busy for hours. You did heaps of work, but why did the time go so quickly? Probably because you were just having fun! Why does a day off usually go quicker than a day at work? Again, when doing something fun you forget about the time, so much that you even forget coffee/smoke breaks. You really get a lot of work done!

Productivity should be redefined as: How much fun did I have when achieving my business goals?

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