Modern Productivity is More Human, More Sustainable, and More Social



“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” — Franz Kafka

What is modern productivity?   Or, maybe a better way to put it is, what should modern productivity really be about?

As I’ve been doing more talks for teams around Microsoft on the Agile Results productivity system, I’ve been thinking through how productivity has evolved.

Really, it’s a shift from treating people as resources and focusing on efficiency to creating a culture of empowerment to enable the creativity and genius in everyone.  It’s a journey, but it’s becoming more inclusive and diverse.

Productivity Defined

Psychology Today provides a fairly robust definition of productivity:

“Productivity generally refers to the ability of an individual, team, or organization to work efficiently within that time in order to maximize output.”

I wish they would have called out effectiveness.   As Stephen Covey taught us, be efficient with things, but effective with people.

7 Characteristics of Modern Productivity

And while the goal of productivity has been about maximizing output over a period of time, there are some significant shifts with modern productivity:

Modern productivity is more human, more sustainable, and more social.

Here are some examples to characterize and express what we really mean by modern productivity:

  1. More human. Modern productivity is more human and more personal.  It needs to be good for people. It’s whole person.  It’s mind, body, emotions, and spirit.   It’s for people, by people, with people.  Machines do the mechanical and automation.  People do the creative, the innovative, and the unique.  It’s people before business, and business before technology.
  2. It’s value, not volume.   Modern productivity is a focus on creating more value, not just more volume.  It’s not about cranking out more widgets or getting more things done.  It’s about getting the right things done, that matter.
  3. Meaningful work. Modern productivity is a focus on vision, mission, and values that light up lives and lessen the load of busy and mundane work.  Work becomes a place of service, a path of mastery, and a platform of motivation.
  4. Outcomes vs. Activities.  Modern productivity is a focus on outcomes versus activities.   It’s easy to go through the motions or cause a bunch of commotion.   OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are the name of the game.
  5. The Journey matters.    Modern productivity is a focus on the journey and the destination.   Productivity is a by product of creating better experiences for everyone involved.  It’s not just did you hit the ball out of the park –It’s did you smile, too?
  6. Sustainability matters.  Modern productivity is a focus on a sustainable pace and wellness vs. burnout and one-hit wonders.
  7. Social matters. Modern productivity is a team sport.   It’s collaborative.  It’s teams and it’s team of teams.  It’s about building relationships vs. doing transactions.  It means being inclusive and diverse.   After all, you can’t be diverse if you are not inclusive, and diverse teams outperform homogenous team.  Modern collaboration means working like a network, working out loud, and making the invisible visible.

The beauty is that Agile Results is a modern productivity system.

It’s Agile productivity to help you be more and achieve more in work and life.

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