The Next Frontier: Unleash Capacity and Productivity Through People

For months and even years on end your organization has fervently focused on process re-engineering and continuous improvement. Legions of teams have analyzed and implemented current and future state process maps.  You have gone through tons of flip charts paper, dozens of white boards, and hundreds of markers and the results have generally been impressive. However, it has become harder and harder to squeeze out the nickels and dimes or minutes from your organization processes and you begin to see diminishing results from your improvement efforts. Sound familiar?

Why not do what a client of mine did and really explore what I think is the next frontier of increasing capacity (more with same) and productivity to impact performance – access and mobilize the discretionary energy of your people.

Woody Allen once said “80% of success is showing up.”  So what is the other 20% then? If your people are just “showing up” they will be doing what is required of them in their jobs but not much more.  No one will get fired, everyone will play nice new improvements and efficiency gains will plateau. The 20% is the energy, passion, commitment and innovative spark that people can only CHOOSE to give you.  It is that 20% that is the next frontier of increased capacity and productivity.   No re-engineering or process improvement program alone is going to access that, but effective leadership can.  My client has been doing extensive process improvement work for years and had gained just about all there was to be gained by this type of work. They decided to put in place an extensive leadership initiative for their front line and mid-level managers squarely focused on increasing their individual capacity and the capacity of those they lead. They were in pursuit of attaining a high performance culture characterized by cross-silo collaboration, honest “straight talk”, high levels of engagement, development-focused performance management and bold thinking. 

The results were extremely noteworthy and lasting.  Don’t get me wrong. Process improvement should be a sustainable ongoing organization practice, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that is the only way you increase capacity and productivity.  Increase the leadership capability of your people, unleash the 20% and have them apply that to the tasks at hand and…be prepared to be amazed.

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