“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker
I love that quote from Mr. Drucker. How much time to organizations and individuals spend trying to get really good at doing things they shouldn’t be doing at all? Based on my experience with our clients, the answer is A LOT. We like to get more efficient so we can say, ‘Look, we’re more efficient or lean or synergized or whatever-random-buzzword-we-want-to-use.’ We are trained that success equates to completing tasks, so as long as we’re completing tasks we must be successful, no matter how stupid or worthless the task is.
Along that line of thinking, here are some things to think about on your journey to peak productivity:
- Stop doing stuff. Remember the 80/20 rule? Twenty percent of the things you do provide eighty percent of the value you bring to the organization. That means 80% of what you do only provides 20% of your value. Somewhere in that 80% are things you’re doing that don’t need to be done. Not by you. Not by anybody else in your organization. Not by anybody else on the planet. Just because it’s fun, or interesting, or you’re good at it, or you’ve always done it, or whatever other excuse you feel like making, doesn’t mean it should still be done. Stop it.
- Delegate/Outsource other stuff. Some of that 80% is stuff that needs to be done, but not by you. Find some one in your organization who’s a good fit. Who’s skill set fits the task or responsibility? Let them do it. If there isn’t anybody in your organization who’s a fit, find somebody on the outside. The world is becoming a very small place. Somewhere is someone who can do what you need done – find them and let them do their thing.
- Reengineer the stuff that’s left. There are very few things that are done at absolute peak efficiency. Even the things that are won’t be in a few years as your environment changes. How can you do it better? Faster? With fewer errors? “Because we’ve always done it that way”, is code for “I’m too lazy to try and come up with something better.” Leaders don’t have the luxury of laziness.
Everyone complains about being busy. But are you busy providing value to your organization? Or are you just busy being busy? It is a choice. Make the right one today.