In this post, Dan Markovitz identifies the weak spots in productivity hacks and explains why they don’t work.
Leaders in organizations are always seeking to improve employee productivity (including their own). All too often, that quest goes no further than time management training provided by the HR department. Those classes cover the pros and cons of Inbox Zero, the Pomodoro technique, the Eisenhower matrix, Getting Things Done, and countless other approaches that tantalize us with visions of the promised land of peak productivity. Given that people are still overwhelmed by work, buried in email, and unable to focus on critical priorities, it’s safe to say that these productivity hacks don’t hack it.
The problem isn’t with the intrinsic logic of any of these approaches. It’s that they fail to account for the simple fact that most people don’t work in isolation. They work in complex organizations defined by interdependencies among people—and it’s these interdependencies that have the greatest effect on personal productivity. You can be an email ninja, but with the explosion of email (not to mention instant messages, Twitter direct messages, Slack messages, and countless other communication tools), you’ll never be fast enough to deal with all the incoming communication. Similarly, your personal urgent/important Eisenhower categories fall apart when the CEO asks you to do stop what you’re doing and handle something right now.
As legendary statistician and management consultant W. Edwards Deming argued in his book Out of the Crisis, 94% of most problems and possibilities for improvement belong to the system, not the individual. I would argue that most productivity improvements belong there as well. Personal productivity systems are certainly useful, but the most effective antidote to low productivity and inefficiency must be implemented at the system level, not the individual level.
Four countermeasures to systemic overload include:
- Tackling tiered daily huddles
- Enabling an equitable distribution of work
- Defining the “bat signal”
- Aligning responsibility with authority
Read the full article, Why Your Productivity Hacks Don’t Hack It, on MarkovitzConsulting.com.
Maintaining productivity for you and your team is not always easy, but despair not; David A. Fields provides a list of productivity questions designed to make you assess, address, and activate a productivity system.
Puff your chest out and strike a superhero pose. You’re Super Productivity Person! Sigh, that’s not very catchy is it?
Also, to be fair, probably neither you nor your consulting firm are achieving legendary productivity day in and day out. You could, though, using the approach outlined below.
Productivity isn’t as sexy a superpower as x-ray vision*, stretchy skin, or spidey senses.*
On the other hand, sky-high productivity feels pretty darn good and rewards you and your consulting firm with high profits, meaningful work, and enviable work/life balance.
So, how do you step up to the Mt. Olympus of productivity?
If you run a quick search on time management and productivity techniques, you’ll surface dozens of approaches. (Hover your mouse here to see some examples.)
It turns out that virtually all of the many, many productivity approaches and systems are built to help you answer a handful of basic questions.
Key points in this article include:
- The Basic Productivity Questions
- The More Important Productivity Questions
- The Superhero Productivity Question
Read the full article, How To Make Yourself And Your Consulting Firm Super Productive, and access the questions, on David’s website.
Luiz Zorzella takes a leap into the arbitrary world of luck to explain how unforeseen forces should be considered when shaping strategies.
8 months ago, I drafted an article explaining why you should do a sensitivity analysis of your strategy to luck.
I was planning to publish it in March of this year, because of St Patrick’s.
That draft started with “Now is the time to be bold.”. I pointed out that the largest Canadian banks were trading at 1.3x their book value – suggesting that investors believed that they were better off if banks kept their money as capital, rather than returning it (US banks were not as uniformly good but were doing just fine).
Then COVID happened and I abandoned my draft and now Canadian banks and the largest US banks are trading close to book value.
That is how Lady Luck works. She is a whimsical diva and she does not take sides.
Points discussed in this article include:
- When times are good
- When times are bad
- Applying luck break scenarios to strategies
Read the full article, SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS: LUCK, on the Amquant website.
From the archives of David Bernal’s company blog, timeless advice on how to build a competitive intelligence function that responds to business needs and informs an effective strategy.
Recently, I had a discussion with the VP of strategy for a major multinational retailer. Even a company with vast resources and highly capable management struggled with a common issue for top management: the lack of actionable, timely and relevant competitive information to make appropriate corporate strategy and performance-improvement decisions.
Many companies, like this one, have reams of data from multiple internal and external sources, but they lack the structure, focus and processes to turn that data into valuable insight to inform their strategy. Often there is too much data and little actionable information.
Relevant and timely insight can be the determining factor when making major strategy and implementation decisions affecting the direction and quality of multiple business activities including growth initiatives, new market entry, M&A strategy, pricing, product and technology roadmaps, JVs, partnerships, etc.
After spending years working with companies around the world to define, articulate and implement competitive insight programs to educate their business strategy, I have determined there are four key best practices that will help you and your team create a capable competitive intelligence function that not only responds to specific organizational needs and enhances decision making at multiple levels but that also can become a long-term source of competitive advantage in the future.
Four points included in this article are:
- Identifying the strategic context
- Comparing data with required insight
- Strategy > Structure > People > Process
- Testing and adjusting
Read the full article, Four best practices for building your internal competitive intelligence capabilities, on the Growth Decisions website.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Sumeet Sanghani. Sumeet Sanghani is a proven growth achieving sales and P&L leader in the outsourcing and shared services space, who is looking for a role in which he can amplify and accelerate growth for a fin tech company.
Sumeet brings the ability to advise and influence senior client executives to embrace solutions which can help them digitally transform their operating and business models for breakthrough performance. He combines advisory and consultative selling skills from his days as a top tier management consultant with McKinsey, EY and Deloitte, with deep domain knowledge in retail banking and lending, coupled with strategic, financial and operational expertise. He has a track record of closing large deals with top 25 banking clients in North America, managing high performing global sales and client management teams and has had P+L responsibility for running and growing business units with over $300M in revenues at Conduent and Cognizant.
Sumeet can help with initiatives to enhance returns from outsourcing and shared services initiatives, from strategy development and planning, to execution plan development and implementation, including assessment and selection of outsourcing partners, commercial negotiations and contracting and governance.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mayowa Ubebe with Cardinal Cornerstone. Mayowa spent 2 years with McKinsey & Company as an Associate working on strategy development and implementation projects across across the public, private and third sectors. She was based in the Lagos office with wide-reaching experience working with global clients in the consumer, financial services and energy industries, national governments and multi-lateral development/donor organisations.
Prior to McKinsey, Mayowa had a 6-year career in the energy industry managing offshore EPC projects at ExxonMobil and performing hands-on wireline oilfield services as an Internationally-mobile Field Engineer with Schlumberger in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Mayowa currently lives in London, UK with her husband and son. She enjoys blogging and is passionate about mentoring female high school students in the developing world. She is available to collaborate on strategy development or implementation projects in any industry.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Astrid Marechal with Paraty 22 SA. Astrid Marechal began her career as a Tire Designer at Goodyear Technical Center in Luxembourg. Later, she was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company where she worked for ten years in North America, Brazil, Russia and Western Europe. Astrid has extensive expertise in strategy development, transformation and go-to-market solutions across multiple B2B industries, including industrial, technology and materials sectors. She has held several interim management positions as P&L owner of BUs. Her clients refer to her as a very sharp and driven person, who is great at getting to the bottom of things and coming up with solutions. She is also recognized to connecting well with the organization at all levels.
When time allows, Astrid enjoys spending time with friends and family and going on motorcycle trips. Astrid speaks fluent French, English and Portuguese and has a good knowledge of German. Astrid lives in Luxembourg, and is fully mobile geographically.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Lindsey Pitt. Lindsey Pitt started her career as a strategy consultant at McKinsey, largely in retail, CPG and media; some strategy work, some implementation work. She subsequently joined Strategos, a boutique consultancy focused on organic growth in blue-chip organizations, where she collaborated with clients to design insight programs and develop and pitch opportunities for investment (think Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den). In contrast to McKinsey strategy work, these projects were mostly handled by clients themselves through facilitated workshops, which was great for building engagement/ownership. She freelanced as a consultant in UK for 8 years before moving to San Francisco in 2010. Since she wanted to get her hands dirty, she joined the managed services team at an alternative legal services provider, designing solutions and reengineering processes.
In normal times, Lindsey volunteers at 826 Valencia, a not-for-profit that supports under-resourced students with writing skills. She also talks about writing a crime novel, but doesn’t actually do it.
She’d love to collaborate on organic growth projects, process reengineering, and strategy development/execution work. She also has deep subject matter expertise in Legal Department redesign(!)
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Zac Peake with Constratego Ltd. Zac Peake has broad consulting and corporate experience, with work that spans strategy development, growth planning, performance improvement, cost reduction, organisation design, and transformation / change for a mix of consumer and retail, financial services, and private equity clients.
Zac has worked at Booz & Company (Consumer and Retail practice), The Parthenon Group (commercial due diligence) as well as independent consulting. Zac’s previous corporate work includes roles as strategy director at Mitchells & Butlers and marketing / growth director at PE backed A-Plan Insurance.
Zac lives in Cambridgeshire, UK. In his free time Zac plays board and card games, listens to audio books and podcasts, snowboards, and strives to occasionally produce a half decent watercolour painting.