We have all seen examples of business leaders focusing exclusively on productivity growth – and failing to develop the business.

Elon Musk – and his (‘hard-nosed’) approach to managing Twitter (now ‘X’) is just one example.

Does this mean that a very strong focus on productivity is wrong?

As often is the case, the answer is ’No…. BUT ….)

A completely ‘hard-edged’ focus on the bottom line, on costs, can be dangerous.

There arere too many ‘soft’ factors involved in productivity – factors such as skill levels, culture, motivation, creativity.   These generally take a longer time to get right. But leaders who forget to address these softer factors – concentrating only on hard and structural factors – will fail to achieve peak performance.

So, take a full-throttle approach to productivity improvement but make sure you include the longer-term, softer factors to build the ’top line’ of the productivity ratio, whilst taking your hard-nosed look at the bottom line.