I just read an article about Vincent van Gogh. He produced 860 oil paintings and 1300 water colors, drawings and sketches in 10 years. TEN YEARS! That is creating a new artwork every 1.7 days for ten straight years. A bunch were classics.
And he did it with one ear lopped off. Man, Vince was productive!
Am I productive? I don't know.
As a CEO, my companies measured everything. We called it "benchmarking." We had a team of statisticians and accountants analyze and post our results. We measured response rates, marketing dollar per new customer, lifetime value (until you die), packages shipped per minute, phone calls per minute, length of call, unique website visitors per dollar spent, number of skus stocked per hour, to list a few. We had hundreds of productivity benchmarks.
I was concerned that at some point we sacrificed quality for speed. Did we care how customer felt? Did we listen? Listening wrecks the numbers.
Listening also makes you think. And for gosh sakes, thinking really wrecks productivity.
"What gets measured gets improved", is a common business mantra taught in MBA schools all around the country. Investment bankers and high-end consultants like McKinsey swear by it. But, it is dehumanizing. People become numbers. It's easy to cut numbers. It's easy to cut health care - it must improve some ratio somewhere. Working with the numbers makes it easy for business leaders to sleep well at night - as we've improved our productivity numbers after all...
And somehow the environment never gets added into the numbers. That would be counter-productive.
So I don't know if I'm productive.
I spend time reading. I spend time sketching. I tinker with fuses and gunpowder. Sometimes the results are blown to bits. That productivity, of course, would be measured as ZERO!
But, I work in The Blast Factory everyday. I try to be creative and make cool work. And, "benchmarking" is graffiti, right?
And, I haven't blown my ear off!