• Measuring Productivity with Paperclips



    Productivity and Paperclips

    I once came across some paperclips in a desk drawer. The desk was one of many pieces of furniture that were recently purchased from an auction where the assets of a bankrupt business were being liquidated for pennies on the dollar. It was enough furniture to completely outfit an office.

    When I reached into the desk to get a paperclip for a stack of papers, I discovered all the paperclips were joined together in one long chain. I immediately thought of the business that we acquired all the furniture and supplies from. If the employees had so much time on their hands to aimlessly join a couple hundred paperclips into a continuous chain, what could they have accomplished if the leaders of the business had the team focused on the goal and purpose of the business and the customers they serve. Maybe, if they had that kind of engagement and productivity, the business may not have gone bankrupt. Maybe.

    Productivity in Numbers

    I recently heard a statistic, that shocked me: on average, employees are only productive toward achieving objectives 20% of the day.  Wow!  That’s mind blowing!  Is this because the business doesn’t have a clear and compelling purpose, vision, or strategy that is simple and easy to follow? Maybe it’s because leadership has not allowed their team to step up to use all their natural talents, energy, and desire?  Maybe.

    If the average employee in the study I had heard about were only 5% more productive or engaged, they would be productive toward an objective 25% of the day instead of 20%. Wow! Spending an extra 5% of the day being productive would increase productivity by 125%. Would that be enough to wow customers and leave the competition in the dust?

    Ask Yourself These Questions to Determine Your Productivity Effectiveness

    As a leader are you walking the talk when it comes to productivity?  Do you spend idle time surfing the internet, reading the news, etc.?  When you have five minutes between meetings, are you wasting that by diving into email?  Or are you doing something that is moving the business forward?

    As a leader are you always ensuring your team and the people around you understand the mission, vision, and strategies?  Does your team know their roles?  How they contribute to the success of the organization, the team and themselves?

    As a leader are you hiring people and developing them to align with all of the above?  Do their values align with the values of the organization and your own values as well?

    If your team was only (and the number still blows my mind) 5% more productive, what would it do to your business?

    Or, are you all busy making paperclip chains?

    Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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