After spending years what felt like running around in circles getting nowhere slowly, I embarked on a personal journey to discover what it takes for people and teams to be more productive, make better decisions, and ultimately have a more fulfilling life.
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 will add more people. They might hire senior team members in the hope to increase competence, and tend to invest in expensive equipment and productivity tools to make the work environment more productive.
Useful metrics include 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.
And although these measures are useful, they all assume you are building the right thing. But are you confident that what you are investing your effort in is what the users want and need? Are you giving customers what they ask for, or are you discovering what they really need?
Software is, after all, different from manufacturing. We produce things that don't exist yet. That means you can only be sure that you're solving the right problem once end users (not customers) accept and use your product regularly and repeatedly. Productivity is less about efficiency and more about accuracy.
What causes teams to be less productive is rarely resources. Adding more, as you would in a typical manufacturing environment, introduces complexity that slows down rather than speed up production. Increasing releases also mean little if it isn't what the users want or add complexity.
Rather, productivity is mostly decreased by a lack of clarity on the goal and too long (or short) feedback loops to validate that they are on the right track.
When the whole team isn't clear and agree on the single most important thing to build is next, you greatly increase your wasted effort. A clear goal is the starting point for productivity.
The impact of emotions on productivity is a vital, often overlooked, key to success. It's not the tools or the skills that make a great team, but the strenght of the relationships. Without emotions and human to human connection you are as weak as the weakest link in your team.
To create hyper productive teams, you need clarity of the goal, regular and meaningful feedback loops that result iAnd mction, and an emphasis on emotions and what motivates people within a team, summarized in the equation below:
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 a hypothesis, but it is more useful to speak directly to a select few customers to uncover unmet needs.
If you don't already, invest time in discovering what motivates your team and what their strenghts are. There is little things more motivating for an individual than allowing them 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.
The sum of the whole is bigger than its parts.
Like a fingerprint, only you know your unique needs.
Do everything as best as possible. Don't stop until you're proud.
Truly see, hear, and feel every person you interact with.