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Productivity in business

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Ash Roy
Productive horses

Productivity defined

According to dictionary.com, "Productivity" can be defined as the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services. 

In an economic context, productivity is defined as the rate at which goods and services having exchange value are brought forth or produced. 

Somehow, over time, the term productivity has found its way into our personal and professional lives and is associated with "time management".

But the term "time management" — can be traced back to Fredrick Taylor's time and motion studies to improve efficiencies on factory floors.

So what does productivity mean to you as a service-based business owner?

Well, chances are that if you're reading this, you're probably a knowledge worker (and not someone working on a factory floor). 

Most of us live in the information economy and productivity for us is not about squeezing every last ounce of each (physical) resource.  

I'd like to propose that for us knowledge workers, productivity is about effectiveness (not efficiency).

Effectiveness is not about getting more done in less time. Rather it's about employing the Pareto efficiency theory — aka the 80/20 rule.

It's about focusing on 20% of our efforts that deliver 80% of our results. It's about choosing to remove 80% of our tasks from our workflow that delivers only 20% of our results. 

As Perry Marshall and I discussed in this conversation on the Productive Insights podcast, the 80/20 rule is fractal.

This means that if you take the 80/20 rule one level further, then 4% of your effort delivers 64% of your results.

And if you take it another level further, then 0.8% of your effort delivers 51.2% of your results. 

Here's a question for you: What's that 0.8% of your efforts that will deliver 51.2% of your results in your business this week/month/year?


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