“Before [19th-century industrial pioneer] Frederick Taylor, the main measurement of productivity was how tired people were when they got home. Well, that’s not the measurement of productivity; that’s the measurement of incompetence.” —Peter F. Drucker
I was struck by this quote from yesterday’s Dx post, which inspired me to think some more about my Joe’s Journal entry from last week. I want to add to it because I feel I left some thoughts hanging a little bit, and I believe this is a very important topic for others to understand and to exploit for themselves.
I have learned a great deal about building effective teams and creating systems for better managing my time, and I still don’t have it right, but I think it’s important for me to share some of the specific lessons that I’m slowly starting to understand. For example, I mentioned that rather than going to Krakow, Poland, this summer, I participated in the event by teleconference. My wife, Judy, set up the call and it worked wonderfully. I spent nine hours in total over two days as a participant, and I saved about 10 days in travel time. That allowed me to focus most of the summer on writing.
Peter Drucker specifically warned executives to watch their travel time, and I am beginning to take that advice. Travel is tougher now, especially as I get older. These trips are very exhausting and ultimately can tax productivity.[EXPAND More]
While I am still working consistently and heavily, I have to try not to turn into what Drucker sometimes termed an “unbalanced workaholic.” I have learned to surround myself with various strong teams for different projects. For example, I have used one or two graduate-student assistants on several recent book projects and to prepare for a TEDx talk. I have had more senior researchers help with other efforts.
In all of these activities I have learned to manage time and to try to create a spirit of performance (e.g., a virtuous circle of performance) with those with whom I work. I have learned that I do not work well by myself, and that more hours spent working doesn’t necessarily mean better work produced.
Even with all of my awareness of Drucker’s advice on how to improve my effectiveness and performance, I was surprised when my colleagues in Poland asked me to think even further about ways to leverage myself to increase performance and productivity while enjoying it even more. They thought I could do more in the future while not running myself ragged.
I am passing on these examples because they may be important to you. Take time to examine your performance. Ask if you are experiencing the thrill associated with high performance. If not, ask what changes you can make in the present and in the future to get there. This takes courage. Be bold and make those changes. It has worked for me, and it can work for you.