I have talked previously about the need to balance the pursuit of efficiency with a need for resilience – we need to be able to cope with supply chain, labour or other problems.

We have also talked previously about the need to balance a concentration on throughput with the need to maintain, or improve, quality.  No use making more widgets if we can’t sell them or they are going to annoy our customers.

Another balance we’ve mentioned is the balance between concentrating on throughput or the longer-term well-being of our workforce.  A workforce that gets burned out becomes inefficient.

Now I’m adding another balance to the list -not one we’ve explicitly mentioned but one we’ve hinted at.  This is the balance between continually refining and improving what we do with the need to do other things – to innovate In both products and processes. 

So, you can see why being a senior executive or manager is a difficult task.  Maintaining a watch on all these factors – and maintaining the balance – can be tricky.

But another way of looking at it is to use a common factor – value.  We ask how any decision we are about to make will affect value for the customer.

This is the true essence of productivity – which is, remember, the ratio of output to input – or value created per dollar employed in the business.  Productivity – if measured properly – helps maintain the various balances, using efficiencies only where they add value for the customer … the one true balance.