Productivity Knowledge Base: Beware Quick Fixes
|Managers are often
tempted to throw money at productivity problems, rather than invest in
real solutions. They are also tempted to jump into a
"solution" they heard about at a seminar or golf game, without
analyzing it thoroughly first. Either approach can actually make things
worse. Let's look at a couple of examples, then talk about the right
Ron, the president of a small and growing firm realized his accounting group could not keep up with the rapid growth. This group consisted of two book keepers, one person who administered payroll and accounts payable, one person who administered invoicing and accounts receivable, and a hands-on unit manager. None of these people had formal training in accounting.
After hearing countless complaints about working late nights and weekends, Ron decided to install an accounting system. Unfortunately, this simply automated the inefficient accounting processes already being used. Consequently, problems appeared more often and required even more hours to resolve. On top of that, the system was very expensive and took four weeks to install. This installation at staff time like termites on wet wood.
Dave was an operations manager with P&L responsibilities for an electrical contracting firm. The firm had three such managers, each with their own staffing and area of specialty--forming three arms of the company: telecom, industrial maintenance, and industrial construction. They shared some common resources, such as administrative and back office support.
Dave was concerned about shrinking margins, and decided productivity improvement would bring those margins back up. So far, so good. Dave instituted a Best Practices program. Unfortunately, the program took a cookie cutter approach. If someone submitted an idea as a Best Practice idea and the Best Practices Committee agreed it was a Best Practice, then that approach became mandatory for any task of that nature.
Those on the committee were managers--people not actually doing the work. When someone from the telecom arm of the company got an idea into Best Practices, that dictated policy in the industrial maintenance and industrial construction arms. But, those three areas operate under different rules and serve different customers with different standards and different expectations.
Callbacks started increasing, and complaints of confusion in the field soared. Productivity plummeted, due to a combination of work stoppages and rework.
Replacing quick fixes with real solutions
You must do some things before adding a productivity fix. Otherwise, you are likely to go backwards. Here's a brief overview--for a more developed approach, consider one of our productivity seminars.
More thoughts on time managementThe phrase "time management" is an unfortunate language quirk. You can't really manage time. It just is. You can't gain time, create time, or even lose time. Time is what it is, regardless of what we do. And, paradoxically, many common "time management" techniques and practices are timewasters because they divert limited resources (such as time) to the wrong things.
It would be better to say "time allocation" or "activity management" "time usage" or some other phraseology to indicate that it's not time itself you're managing but how you use the time that exists. But we'll use the common terminology here to avoid confusion.
Some things time management is not:
Some things good time management involves:
We've highlighted only some of the factors involved in good time management. We actually teach extreme time management, which is a methodology that allows you to make effective use of your time almost second nature. You don't need a complicated system. Our system puts many of the variables on autopilot, so you have more time to do what you need to do. Our system goes way beyond most other systems in results, yet is far simpler.
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