do we have a wrong definition of productivity?

June 20, 2014

summer sunlight June 2014Good Friday morning to you! A rainy and cool day here in the Midwest.

An issue that is important to me and that has been rekindled in me by Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism is how we equate busyness and the accomplishment of our to-do list as productivity. As I have noted before, our US culture rewards and values the busy person who is skilled at multitasking (which is a lie as well) and whose calendar is filled with one meeting after another with no room to even breathe much less think. For some reason, we define this as being “productive”.

As I noted in an earlier blog, this could be one form of laziness, for some people it is all they know, and for many of us, it is the behavior that is functionally valued and rewarded in our organizations. However, often the greatest value to the organization are the people who take time to think deeply and to wrestle with the core issues or challenges facing the organization. Those people who are digging to find the root cause(s) and to develop long-term solutions to those problems. People who are concerned  that they are working on the “one thing” that will tip the scales in whatever endeavor they are working on. These people are the ones that often bring the most value to an organization, but unfortunately, in most of our organizations they are seen as “unproductive” as they are not rushing around and attending many meetings. They are often just thinking. Yet, given the chance, they are the ones that solve the biggest problems or develop game-changing innovations.

So, maybe, just maybe, we have a wrong definition of productivity. And just maybe it’s time to change the definition,

Have a great weekend!

BG