WaDaYa KnO!

Getting surprising results from strategic project management, business analysis, content management, development, and delivery

Measure Productivity by First Asking Why

A recent post on the STC Managers’ SIG list asked about how to measure productivity. Many chimed in with exactly what you would expect: measure length of time and volume of output. This is important to measure, but I can’t help but step back a bit. Rather than starting by calculating metrics and seeing what you can count, start from the opposite end of the stick. First define what productivity/quality is and then figure out the proper metrics to use. Try asking the question, WHY do we produce what we do? I found the Golden Circle helpful to answer this question. Simon Sinek has a way of describing this that is very clear and inspiring. http://www.startwithwhy.com/About.aspx?n=1.

A diagram of what Simon Sinek calls 'The Golde...

A diagram of what Simon Sinek calls 'The Golden Circle'. In his TEDx talk, he says 'People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it."
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is an example of what came out of one exploration of the Golden Circle.

1. WHY do we do what we do? Why, in the publications division, do we write one single word?

We write because we believe that we can INSPIRE users to achieve great and wonderful things when they use our products and services.

2. HOW do we do this? Not what tools or process do we use, or how many publications
we output. Think bigger!
For example, …

We INSPIRE users by creating engaging, accessible, findable, well curated, and organized content that…

-Motivates readers to want to use our products and services, and
-Makes it seem easy to use our products and services to get things done that readers want to get done and to achieve the results readers want to achieve.

3. WHAT is the result?
As a result of our believe that we can INSPIRE readers to do wonderful things, we have created a content model and framework that looks like <this> and …
increases sales of our products and services (this is why we are in business–to sell something)

-Decreases support questions
-Increases customer retention
-Increases reader satisfaction ratings
-Engages readers

-Readers provide feedback that shows us what they like and don’t like
-They talk about our products and services in social media and in professional groups
-They refer our products and services to others
-They contribute their time to helping us improve our products and services

Once you have answers to 1 through 3, you can then write a statement that describes what productivity/quality really is and decide …
-What true productivity and quality looks like
-What and how to track metrics that validate productivity and quality
-What are reasonable achievement goals

When I explore productivity/quality in this way, I see that it has nothing to do with how many pages/words or hours, or how much money. It has to do with changing outcomes and making a difference.

Caveat: Yes, we must be aware of the cost to INSPIRE, but the costs don’t mean much if the outcome of our work has no effect.

Grist for the mill!


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