Principles of Productivity

Productivity is a cornerstone as one of the most wanted outcomes of teamwork. Here you will find an article presenting some important principles of productivity written by Tor Dahl, Minnesota, USA, one of the most knowledgeable scholars of productivity in the world. 2005-01-18

What would you say if you learned that you could employ a performance improvement process in your organization that would simultaneously increase productivity, reduce work related stress, increase customer satisfaction, improve employee morale, increase quality, make you more competitive and increase bottom-line financial results? Too good to be true?

Not so. Tor Dahl & Associates has developed just such a process, and we can put it to work for you. It is all based on solid research, practical successes and a commitment to principles of resource optimization that have transformed companies throughout the world. Below is a brief summary of some of the underlying principles that create lasting change in any type of organization.

Vast Untapped Resources
Although most people are working very hard these days, we have found that each individual in an organization can still increase productivity by at least 30%. How can that be? The answer lies in the fact that most workers, often of no fault of their own, are not working on the right things in the right way. The culprits are a variety of organizational "ills", including lack of clear directions and goals, suboptimized processes, excessive paperwork and reporting requirements, unproductive meetings, inappropriate systems and tools, etc. The list goes on.

Our experience has also shown that only 28% of a company's resources are typically needed to accomplish their goals and objectives. This means that nearly 72% of the remaining resources are either wasted, misused or under-utilized. This is enough to nearly triple productivity by applying the resources more effectively on higher value activities that create an "unbridgeable gap" between a company and its competitors.

So, to make dramatic improvements in performance, companies must deal openly with all issues that affect productivity. Fundamental performance improvements occur when individuals and groups are able to make knowledgable choices. No major changes in performance can ever happen without systematically looking at all activities that consume resources. Resources are limited so it is crucial that new initiatives are preceded by a process to free up unproductive resources, allocating the resources to where they add the most value and gain the hearts and minds of everyone in the company to make positive and lasting changes.

Freeing and Re-allocating Resources
Three simple principles enable individuals to increase productivity by at least 30%. These principles help employees make knowledgeable choices about the work they do so that they perform only value-added tasks, perform them in the best possible way, and do so all the time. Tor Dahl & Associates has perfected an organizational program that enables everyone to learn and apply these principles. Only when unproductive resources are freed up and employees are unburdened from dissatisfying activities does it make sense to focus on major business growth activities. We then work with companies to ensure that new goals and objectives receive the necessary input from customers, suppliers, employees and management.

Removing the Corporate Logjam
Each individual typically can act on only one quarter to one half of the improvement potential they identify by applying the resource-freeing principles. The rest is locked up in inter-connecting organizational obstacles that stand in the way of achieving a bold vision. Examples of such structural obstacles could be inadequate leadership skills, undisciplined product development processes, poor teamwork or a number of other issues. You can think of these organizational obstacles as a set of logs in a river that has formed a logjam. Unless the logjam is untangled, new logs will flow down the river and add to the logjam. The logjam will usually have 5 to 7 logs in it and each organization has its own unique logjam. One is the key log, and that log must be removed first. The others follow in logical order. You remove logs by replacing the bad idea that created it with a good idea. This means finding the root cause for why the log is there in the first place. Tor Dahl & Associates' process helps companies identify and remove the logjam quickly and effectively with buy-in from everyone.

How to Make it Work
Unfortunately, most corporate changes occur in the "cognitive domain"--the part of the brain that involves thinking, judging and willing their way through problems. However, the research is clear that such changes do nothing to stimulate positive, lasting changes. To create a positive and lasting transformation, the changes must be embraced by everybody. This takes place in the "affective domain"--the part of your brain that controls your emotions and stimulate engagement, courage and optimism. Tor Dahl & Associates relies on sound research and a practical methodology to achieve such affective domain changes. For example, the most effective leadership styles and followership styles will be taught and demonstrated. You will learn that certain negative leadership styles leave behind powerless, frustrated followers that are far less productive than they could be otherwise. Your own data will prove that this is the case. Our years of implementing organizational change has also taught us that:

• The person who does the work knows best how it can be improved. Only through very in-depth, confidential, one-on-one interviews will employees open up and express their fears, hopes and aspirations. We probe on more than 30 key dimensions of performance that our research has found to be the most critical to achieving fast, positive and lasting change.
• Involving all employees, key customers, suppliers and other stakeholders provides the greatest incentive for change.
• When people's thoughts and ideas are gathered in confidence, and then shared and worked on by all, customer satisfaction and productivity improvement can be accomplished both quickly and permanently.

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