Monday, May 4, 2015

What is exactly being productive means?

How can we improve our productivity? / What can we do to improve our productivity? / How can we effectively measure productivity? and many more questions related to same topic arises everyday. So what is productivity?

Is productivity means keeping entire organization busy all the time on most important thing?

As an organizations, our focus is always on Net Profit, ROI and Cash Flow.  To make money we need to increase net profit while simultaneously increase return on investment and cash flow. If the goal is to make money, then, an action that moves us towards making money is productivity. And an action that takes us away from making money is non-productive. So, "Productivity is the act of bringing a company closer to the goal (of MAKING MONEY). "

Making money is definitely the end result of a goal but might not be the direct goal of your company. Your company might have target like 10m new customers in next quarter or being #1 company in advertisement field etc to achieve making money goal.

Knowing those tiny goals and keeping focus on those goals are very important. To make an organization productive everyone part of it should have clear picture of their goals and should understand all the tiny steps required to achieve those goals.

I believe in agile environment, we expect too much out of our POs (Product Owners). I feel, as if we expect them to behave like superheros. They are responsible for entire engineering team's productivity. We don't expect engineering team to have much power when it comes to deliver business value.

It is hard being a Product Owner. POs are responsible to align their day to day work with mission/vision statement of the company. If PO fails to prioritize properly, it effects the bottom line.
They are also required to keep up changing market demand, creating proper specification for all engineers, being responsible for business flow and value etc. They are human after all and can make mistakes.

I strongly believe it is not only PO who need to understand organization goal, its everyone's. That's what being productive means. It is responsibility of every member to make sure they are on same page and speak same language. And it starts with selecting right items to work on.

I would recommend management to do first round of prioritization by selecting high value items (HVI I call them H6 list) (Lean Enterprise has awesome formula #WSFJ).  Then broadcast or share (via OKRs) H6 list with everybody. This could be the first step towards creating a common platform. POs would still be responsible for articulating and bringing the ship to island. But engineers can raise a flag incase they notice something which is not part of the H6 list.

Until everybody is aware of organizational goal and necessary steps to achieve it, being productive does not hold much meaning.

Lets build something which matters the most to the customer :)

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