Removing Barriers to Increasing Productivity
In general, companies can waste a lot of time in internal meetings that are either unproductive or unnecessary. One of my former colleagues had a coffee mug that I loved. It said: “I just survived a meeting that should have been a phone call.” Truer words have never been written. And although everyone has a role to play in achieving efficiency, systems are often the cause of significant “unnecessary and/or extra” work. Focusing on systems, more so than on people, has a greater impact on efficiency. Many of our systems, although created in an attempt to make things “better”, can get in the way of efficiency and lead to little or no real benefit. For example, some tracking systems take a fair bit of time and regular data entry to keep up to date, but if we don’t ever use that information, is it worth it? That is an example of an organization getting in its own way of being productive, when in fact they should be removing barriers to success. Not all work is worth the time it takes to do it. This is where time can be saved in almost every organization.
Good time-saving examples are presented in Paul Holbrook’s book Diary Detox. Holbrook clearly outlines how you can look at daily tasks in your calendar (called ‘diary’ in the UK!) and decide what you should and should not be doing, and set boundaries to avoid the ‘should not be doing’ tasks. As well as task ‘culling’, figure out how much time you should generally be spending on each category of work based on your role in an organization. With respect to meetings, he discusses thinking about what would happen if a particular meeting was cancelled and never rescheduled. If the answer is “nothing”, then that meeting would not be a productive use of anyone’s time.