Louis Armstrong’s words sound prophetic when you look around at the speed and scale of change of our times.
Our generation has far more information at hand and a much wider sphere of influence than any generation before. The advent of technologies like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others, have completely transformed how people communicate, make decisions, do things and achieve what they want to achieve.
These technologies of today have exponentially enhanced the potential of an individual. Today we consume and produce more data than entire businesses did just a decade ago. Today we live in real time, acutely aware of our surroundings – friends, family, products, pricing and trends, at every minute of our waking hours.
Yet I realize, this is just the beginning of human productivity and knowledge exchange - what a wonderful world indeed.
What’s interesting, is that this wave of change in our personal lives has barely wet the surfaces of our work life.
Our organizations continue to operate in an archaic world of disconnected emails, spreadsheets, presentations and multiple applications – to communicate, make decisions, get things done and achieve objectives.
This dichotomy is nowhere more pronounced than in organizations with the most resources to make this transformation possible. One wonders why?
It seems fantastic to think it is the lack of corporate will. For these are the organizations that are creating and launching multimillion dollar, cutting-edge novel products.
Then, why - one wonders - would you want to build eco-friendly, energy efficient skyscrapers of today, equipped with the tools of pyramid builders of eras past?
I believe it comes down to the prevalence of management thinking from yesteryears in today’s approach to human productivity.
Mathematically, it looks something like this:
Productivity = Process + Performance + People
This management approach has lead organizations and an army of consultants to believe that the right process and performance metrics (for various parts of the process) are the most important factors for achieving corporate objectives. The focus on the people aspect has comparatively been weak, and in some cases has merely been lip service.
However, the wind of change is blowing hard. The impact of an individual’s voice has never been so powerful. It is changing products, services, markets, and governments.
It is time that businesses recognize that to harness the power of their organization’s potential, the focus genuinely needs to be switched to their most important asset – their people.
Today what’s needed is:
PRODUCTIVITY = PEOPLE (Process + Performance)
Where process and performance metrics are designed to 'truly' - encourage and empower people, which ultimately drives engagement. And, engaged people are universally more productive, which is the key to operational excellence.
Achieving operational excellence is about effectiveness — the job done right the first time, and efficiency — significant impact with fewer resources, to deliver consistent, outstanding performance.
Organizations achieve Operational Excellence when their people are being effective and efficient simultaneously, and doing more with less.