Your company is a market leader, your profits have been increasing steadily and your business is hungry for growth. With the goings so good, it’s impossible that your productivity is poor, right? Wrong.
What many of us fail to grasp is that productivity is not a question of money, it’s a question of time. Simply put, time wasted is a productivity opportunity lost, and the chances are, you are losing that opportunity by the minute.
Thankfully, there are solutions out there that can help, with machine learning and performance tracking prime among them. If technologies turn you off, before you decide to read no further, consider this: the artificial intelligence that business leaders still approach with suspicion are rooted in the human-led practices that have shaped our modern business world.
Only infinitely more effective. Unconvinced?
Let’s take a walk through history to see how the standardisation and monitoring now associated with AI were in use long before robots arrived on the scene.
There’s no better place to start than at McDonald’s. By the late 1940s, two brothers named Dick and Mac were on the cusp of something revolutionary. Not only were they catapulting the hamburger to fame and introducing affordable fast food to the masses, they were devising a model that would change the commercial world.
Stripped back, their strategy was about achieving volume through speed. To the customer, that meant self-service. To the company, it meant standardisation and close monitoring, as well as some serious streamlining: firing servers, slashing menus and introducing a production line approach to food preparation.
Crucially, the McDonald’s brothers also conducted time and motion exercises designed to radically reduce the steps taken in the kitchen and service area of their restaurant. By doing so, they were able to minimise time lost and drastically increase productivity.
What McDonald’s did was groundbreaking, but they were not the first to consider productivity through the lens of time, motion and standardisation; that accolade goes to industrialist Frederick Taylor.
In the late 1880s, Taylor realised that standardised systems could increase worker productivity. He experimented with shovel designs at the Bethlehem Steel Works in Pennsylvania and found that different versions worked better for different types of coal. Then, he broke jobs down into tasks, timed how long they took to complete and specified how each should be carried out, ensuring that workers were trained to perform them correctly.
Centuries on, the parallels between Taylor’s work and the methods adopted by many of today’s corporate giants are hard to ignore. Somewhere down the line, however, we have lost sight of that vital link between time, motion and productivity.
So, are you as productive as you thought you were, really? Or, are you wasting precious time and energy?
In the early days, McDonald’s didn’t waste a moment. Yet, if their model became the textbook approach to management, why do many of us reject the same kind of principles when they’re driven by AI and machine learning technologies that do the job better?
It is time for a radical rethink. If you want to get productive, you need to get smart, and time tracking is the perfect starting point. The number of productive hours at work can be extremely low, yet few companies systematically track their employees.
That means vital information remains uncollected and unanalysed, leaving companies unable to see where they could conserve or redirect resources. By contrast, time-tracking provides companies with a wealth of useful data and motivates employees to minimise non-productive activities such as unnecessary meetings and breaks.
Time-tracking might be met with resistance from employees who fear for their jobs or view it as a personal insult, but if managed well, it can yield great results for employee and enterprise alike. By measuring the right things, being transparent, depersonalising the process and accentuating the positives, time tracking can boost morale and professional development as well as company productivity.
The clock is ticking. Don’t let time slip through your fingers.
Tommy Weir is the founder and CEO of enaible: AI-powered Leadership and author of “Leadership Dubai Style”. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.