This is blog is about the frustration of working in large teams where we all do our own assigned task and aspire to achieve the results with efficiency. Quite often, we never achieve the efficiency we aim for even though we are very clear about who is doing what.
I have personally been in several such roles and hated them because I have not been productive or efficient.
However, recently I stumbled upon something that gave me insights on this problem of lack of efficiency and how this could be solved.
Let’s try and understand this by understanding 2 theories
Theory 1 by Adam Smith
Adam Smith had a very important notion of efficiency. He gave an example of a pin factory. He said pins have 12 different steps, and if one person does all 12 steps, production is very low. But if you get one person to do step one, and one person to do step two and so on, production can increase tremendously. And indeed, this is a great example, and the reason for the Industrial Revolution and efficiency.
Theory 2 by Karl Marx
Karl Marx, on the other hand, said that the alienation of labor is incredibly important in how people think about the connection to what they are doing. And if you do all 12 steps, you care about the pin. But if you do one step every time, maybe you don’t care as much. Watch this wonderful 1 min 59 secs video on Karl Marx’s Theory on Alienation.
Well, both the theories contradict.
Dan Ariely ( professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University ) summarise this conflict in this way.
I think that in the Industrial Revolution, Adam Smith was more correct than Karl Marx. But the reality is that we’ve switched, and now we’re in the knowledge economy and we are still functioning like we are in the Industrial Revolution.
You can ask yourself, what happens in a knowledge economy?
Is efficiency still more important than meaning?
I think the answer is no. I think that as we move to situations in which people have to decide on their own about how much effort, attention, care they put in to their work, Marx makes more sense.
So when we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it — meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.
The good news is that if we added all of those components and thought about them — how do we create our own meaning, pride, motivation, and how do we do it in our workplace, and for the employees — I think we could get people to be both more productive and happier.
I guess, the next question is how do we apply this learning to running a project efficiently and be more productive
Our next blog will be about Productivity Storytelling tips on applying this learning to a project.
This blog is a part of our blog series Storytelling Passes The Productivity Test
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