If the example of the multi-billion-dollar tech firm I cited last week kept you awake at night, I can only apologise. However, maybe some good can come out of your nocturnal fretting and a dual individual/organisational mindset for improving productivity can be achieved.

For all companies with workforces engaged in knowledge work, which is by nature collaborative and spontaneous, focusing exclusively on the individual level is like claiming that because we have electron microscopes, we have no need for the Hubble space telescope. The data from each is crucial to a fuller understanding of the world.

Spontaneity amongst highly motivated and engaged employees is good, but not if it arises in the absence of coordination. Companies would do well to begin by clarifying exactly what it is that these workers do that genuinely drives value for the organisation as a whole while simultaneously identifying which of their efforts either do little to add value or actively deplete it.

Uncoordinated actions that have no bearing on enterprise-level value simply drain a company’s vitality and resources. In Part One of this series, I referred to the enormous benefits to productivity brought about through digital communications and emails. However, they have also complicated the task of enhancing productivity, enabling companies not only to function on a real-time basis but rendering them vastly more distributed than ever before.

This why a reliance on inflexible financial and operating metrics delivered on a weekly, monthly or even annual basis are so last century.

Leaders today have to combine awareness of individual or team productivity with an awareness of what goes into the making of organisational productivity and acquire the tools needed to sustain this awareness. The beauty is that if this organisational level can be looped back to individual productivity so that workers know exactly which of their efforts add enterprise-level value, a virtuous circle gets set up wherein individual productivity gains really do add up to enterprise-level ones.

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