First and foremost, it is essential for people and organizations to recognize that productivity is embedded in everything they do, there is not such a thing as “doing my job” and apart from that “working in productivity”. Everyone’s job within a successful organization is to be productive in doing whatever they do, not only to create more value but also to accelerate its delivery to shareholders, customers and employees. Moreover, it is not always clear what is productivity and how can each organizational level can contribute to make a company more productive. Nevertheless, what is clear is that productivity is a key driver of profitability and critical to increase company’s value in the eyes of not only customers and shareholders but also employees because after all: Who wants to work in an unproductive and bureaucratic company? Therefore, it is of fundamental importance to define what is to be productive at each organization level as well as mindset and behaviours needed to achieve sustainable productivity.

Achieving operational excellence

To begin with, organizations must strive for simplify and standardize processes without losing competitive advantages. What is more, the only singularities and where uniqueness becomes an advantage is if it is value added for our customers. Everything else should be as simple and standard as possible to be performed with minimum effort and that encompass not only to eliminate waste but also to reduce organizational bureaucracy aka “business value added”. A simple and well-kwon Lean tool called DILO (Day_In_Life_Of) can help people to develop awareness about manual processing and rework time to build a “burning platform” to streamline and automate processes. Some organizations might prefer more accurate time measurement systems such as “Workware” but it is important to consider that are “insights” within people the ones which are going to drive a change in mindset and help to build new productive behaviours that will lead to create capacity within processes by reducing rework and manual processing time. Productivity driven from within will be always more sustainable in contrast with the one pushed from the outside.

Improving delivery performance

Once operational productivity is achieved, it is upon the tactical level to make the best use of that productivity to translate it not only in customers’ satisfaction but business’ results as well. By eliminating bottlenecks and creating E2E process flow, productivity is managed to deliver products and services earlier with an impact on customers’ experience. At the same time throughput is increased by translating processes’ extra capacity in organizational additional capacity. Furthermore, operational cost saving could be taken into the next step with an impact on revenue depending on how operational productivity is managed at a tactical level. Therefore, it is key that managers adopt an E2E approach as well as create transparency in capacity, performance and workload to make the best possible use of operational productivity and to become tactical productive as well. Another simple and well-known Lean tool called MILO (Month_In_Life_Of) can help managers to improve resource planning as well as TOC (Theory of Constrains) and “Critical Path” could be useful frameworks to identify and handle processes and projects’ bottlenecks respectively.

Driving Sustainable Productivity

So far, we have cover productivity from operational and tactical perspectives, but which is the strategic side productivity? First, productivity should be sustainable, therefore targets must be challenge but achievable as well as rewards and recognitions must be aligned and used to reinforced right productive mindset and behaviours. However, when managers are not able neither to improve customer’s experience nor business results with operational productivity, operational cost savings could be over-emphasized by the organization to compensate lack of tactical productivity. Second, transparency in capacity, performance and workload must be used as bottom-line for coaching both operational and tactical levels. Hence, at strategic level productivity will rely on leadership and leaders’ ability to bring the best from people by taken them out of the comfort zone without burning them out. Moreover, leaders’ coaching capabilities will be decisive to develop both people’s engagement and enablement by finding out and taking advantages of synergies between people’s motivation and organization’s objectives. Nevertheless, leaders without coaching capabilities will rely on micromanagement and push productivity from outside to achieve their goals. Finally, it is a combination of sensible and motivational leadership the key to achieve sustainable productivity which is driven from within engaged people who look forward to improving not only what they do but themselves as well. To conclude, I believe sustainable productivity is perhaps one of the most valuable competitive advantages that an organization can develop in a VUCA world.

Thanks for Reading.

Marcelo Sauro is an internationally experienced performance and improvement senior manager. He holds an Executive MBA and Master of Science degrees and has helped people and organizations to transform themselves. Not only he led E2E transformations in Global Business Services, R&D, Supply Chain and Finance organizations at all levels within the LATAM and EMEA Regions, but he is also experienced in several industries including Life Science, Healthcare, Insurance, Fintech, Technology, Telecoms, FMCG, Chemicals, Automotive, Energy and Mining. Since 2015, he has been researching and developing content in agile and resilience through Value Ways, while working under contract for customers such as MetLife, Novartis, Vertiv (Emerson NP) and Experian among others. Previously, he worked for more than 7 years as Master Black Belt for a LATAM-based consulting group, which had ASQ, Qualtec and Oriel as business partners. Prior to that, he worked for more than 10 years at BASF and GSK in positions of growing responsibility in the area of Operational Excellence. Marcelo is currently working at Ferring's “International PharmaScience Center” (IPC) for the Global R&D organization in Copenhagen. To find out more please visit

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