The Two Most Dreaded Words in Business; Improve Productivity

Marketing Manager, Desktop Products
Xerox Indirect Channels Business Group

UGGHH – You hear the boss say, “We just have to do more with less”. But what does that really mean?

From pro·duc·tiv·i·ty : noun : the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services: The productivity of the group’s effort surprised everyone.

I searched for “improve productivity” for help in defining the term. Google returned nearly 12 million responses. Sounds like a lot of help – too much help.

“Improve productivity”, and its synonymous phrase “do more with less”, today are often used in business settings. So popular even the presidential candidates are using these phrases.

President Obama said, “Even in the best of times, teachers are asked to do more with less” when he recognized the National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki. Mr. Romney uses the phrase in his Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth

I looked on Google Trends for the term “productivity”. Interestingly, the trend for that search term seems to be slowly decreasing since 2004/2005. Does this trend mean we are getting more productive and don’t need to search for it? Or does it mean we are just becoming more un-productive?

With such widespread use, “improve productivity” and “do more with less” border on becoming cliché and when used just sound trite and unimaginative. 

For a small business, “do more with less” is very personal. When used, it often means an employee has left and the business cannot afford to replace that worker. Everyone in the business is impacted.

Looking through a few of the millions of returned entries from my Google search, I found lots of lists to help you “improve productivity”. We even have a list of myths on productivity on the website. All written to help, just like this blog post. Sadly, none of these lists will directly be applicable to your situation. No one knows your small business like you.

Given that – you are uniquely qualified to figure out how to get your new expanded job done. You have the tenure and experience. You are the expert. Write your own list. Focus on what you do best. It may take some creativity (which is the topic of my next post). In the end, it will be exactly what you need to “do more with less” for your small business.

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