Very few organisations improve productivity  by accident.  They may do so as a ’by-product’ of some other initiative (such as installing new technology or establishing a new workforce development programme) but productivity doesn’t just come along unbidden.

This means that you have to seek it out. You have to plan for it. You have to examine your business and work out what can be improved. You have to ask questions about what you do now – and how you do those things.

A good, but simple, approach is just to walk the business occasionally looking for signs that things are wrong or could be improved.  Piles of waste or piles of work-in-progress might indicate you could benefit from process change.

Talk to the workers on the shop floor.  What don’t they like about what they do.  What do they think needs changing.

Then talk to the supervisors. Do they identify the same potential problems as the workers?

Go back to the office and check the data. Are there any trends in output levels, quality levels, labour costs, customer satisfaction levels?

When you find something that doesn’t seem quite right, start an investigation to understand the problem or potential improvement? What might happen if you change various factors of the situation? What unintended consequences might there be?

Then start to plan the changes you think will bring benefits.  Prepare for any changes you intend to make – especially to job roles and working methods. Support your workforce through the change.

Don’t wait for productivity to come about. Seek it out and plan for it!