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Measuring productivity in knowledge work?

It was a struggle finding a decent quotation for this post, but then I came across Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Presumably a trail all the way through the house in your muddy boots, in this weather. But associate that quotation if you would with this one from a recent comment on a LinkedIn post

“… we don't know how to measure productivity in knowledge work. As a result, we lean on two dysfunctional mindsets:

1. Time invested = productivity

2. If the company overall is doing well, everyone is productive. The converse is also true.”

When on the path of productivity, everybody from Governments to Blue Chips seems to think that asking people how productive they 'feel' equates with how productive they 'are'. This is a bit of a problem when, Microsoft found that 80% of managers felt workers were more productive working from the office; whereas 80% of workers felt they were more productive working from home.

Here then, is a well-trodden and much followed path, but sadly it was developed by Escher and is fabulously self-defeating...and circular.

Now take this wonderful quote from Kate Lister:

“Does a CEO stand up in front of investors and talk about how they FEEL about the company's performance? Of course not, yet that's exactly how most are measuring the performance of their most expensive and valuable asset.”

And we DO know how to measure productivity, from those in the Boardroom to the Basement, and everybody in between, whatever the skill set. We have been doing it for 19 years with peer-reviewed and published data in scientific journals.

Yet Mark Dixon of Regus said, “I hope in my lifetime that somebody will find a way of measuring productivity”. We haven’t seen him yet.

This despite my being 6’2” and 16 stones, all of which is impressively constructed from beer, chips and biscuits (my body is a potting shed🙏). Not the tallest I know, but I have been bouncing up and down on this (reinforced) trampoline for a few years now with published evidence, the ability to pull together world leading best practice, and the skillset to apply better productivity to any business.

We can measure how all organizations are doing. That is the point of The Knight Index, and it is vital in this post pandemic world.

The Ki integrates investigations carried out during the pandemic with the work completed before. This informs what is ongoing now. We can help positively affect productivity wherever people are working, however much they are working.

There are of course, inevitable and dreadful side-effects to this methodology, which the science has also picked up. Productivity increases have consistently been tied up with happier, less stressed, and more engaged colleagues. Sorry about that, but you can’t have everythi…hang on a minute.

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