After spending years what felt like running around in circles getting nowhere slowly surrounded by unhappy people and customers, I embarked on a personal journey to discover what a post-agile workplace looks like.
Most productivity improvements in knowledge work environments focus only on efficiency.
Many teams measure productivity by looking at tangible things like effort, competence, and environmental factors. Typically, to increase capacity they add more people. Or maybe they hire senior people in the hope to increase competence. Or maybe they invest in expensive equipment and productivity tools. Or, the introduce more granular metrics to improve estimations.
And although there is a place for these things, the most productive thing you can do is align your team, strengthen the relationships, and develop enough autonomy and ownership so that decision making can be more reliable, and faster.
Efficiency becomes useful when you produce the same artifact repeatedly. In software development we mostly produce something that has never been produced before. The key to productivity is thus getting clear on the desired outcome, and whether it is solving the right problem to begin with.
There are of course useful metrics such as measuring lead time (the time it takes to release a single feature), the deployment frequency (how often you release new features to production), and other DORA metrics. But they all assume you are building the right thing.
Resources are rarely the cause of productivity issues. Adding more, as in a typical manufacturing environment, introduces complexity that slows down rather than speed up production. In the age of knowledge work adding more increases cognitive overload which leads to slower decision making and higher probability of mistakes.
Productivity for humans requires adequate feedback loops to validate hypothesese and the autonomy to change direction to keep heading north.
The impact of emotions on productivity is also a vital, often overlooked, key to productivity. You can have the best tools and skills, but without strong relationships and human-to-human connection you are as weak as the weakest link in your team.
To create hyper productive teams, you need clarity and alignment towards a shared goal, regular and meaningful feedback loops, and the ability express yourself fully.
To maximize your productivity, spend more time gaining clarity and alignment on your goal. Design feedback loops that is both scientific and meaningful to the customers. Measuring analytics, for example, is useful to test what is already created, but it is more useful to speak to a select few customers to uncover what's missing.
If you don't already, invest time in discovering what motivates your team and what their strenghts are. There is little more motivating than allowing a person to use their strenghts. And make space for emotions. Embrace the ups and downs of the life and work journey.
Quality of life is directly aligned to your ability to live by your values. What's yours?
Do everything consciously, never because you have to.
Always look for new ways to do old things.
To truly see, hear, and feel every person I interact with.