December 20, 2009

Get Productive During the Holidays

A Model of Productivity -- a story about a corporate guy we'll call "Mr. S"


When you think of business productivity, you cannot help, at least seasonally, from remembering this giant of productivity, Mr. S. We were thinking of his singular focus during "A Christmas Carol" recently at The Dallas Theatre Center.


The perennially maladjusted Mr. S is often portrayed as miserly, cold, unfeeling, old and curmudgeonly. But possibly, here was a man who may have been before his time. Perhaps we should consider his views on personal productivity again.


Let's see how Mr. S operated. If we look at our measurements today, Mr. S set a firm tone for his business. Managing by walking around was his style and on-time employee performance was key. Employee feedback was always available. Mr. S was no absentee boss, unaware of what was going on in his work force. His workflow automation was well in place with a steady flow of work flowing to Bob Cratchit's cubicle.


He kept corporate overhead expense low by reducing the amount of coal to be burned in the office stove and limiting candle usage to one per desk. A cooler office temperature is known to boost employee productivity, and in a nod to ergonomics, he knew that standing, or perching on a tall stool, maintains employee alertness. Doze off and the fall will wake you. As to cubicle lighting, fewer candles limit visual distractions and keep employees focused on their own work with no place for Facebook etc.


As to the United Way of London, Mr. S was an active proponent of the tax supported Victorian era workhouses. His social welfare thoughts on "decreasing the surplus population," focused on getting rid of the poor.


From the aspect of diversity and employee benefits, Mr. S has a particular distaste for the merriment of Christmas; his single act of kindness is to give his clerk, Mr. B. Cratchit, the day off with pay. However, this is done more as a result of social mores than kindness, as Scrooge sees the practice akin to having his pocket picked on an annual basis. He also was a pioneer in putting employees in cubes to foster a team atmosphere and permit closer supervision.


Mr. S had visits by four ghosts on Christmas Eve. The first confronted him with the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, who cries out in agony and regret over the way he had lived his life.


The past shows his schoolboy life many years earlier. Here it is suggested that his father abandoned young Mr. S at his boarding school, even during Christmas. It also suggests that he could be a candidate for mental health services through the company employee assistance program.


Getting help was dicey, as there appeared to be no Dr. Phil type programs in the media at the time. This is relevant to Mr. S, because it shows the beginnings of his lack of socialization and empathy. He does not socialize because he never experienced steady growth in a strong family unit. He does not empathize thanks to the way he was treated: as a child, he was the least of his father's concerns, and this in turn taught him not to feel for fellow humans. No one asked him "How's this working for you?"


Thus, life generated what a good MBA program of today struggles to achieve. A close focus on the job and the business, with the judicious use of business assets for achieving corporate goals and objectives that have made Mr. S a model of self actuation in productivity.


Let us welcome Ebenezer Scrooge, our Productivity Person of the Year.


Sleep well Mr. Scrooge. It's gonna be a long night.


If you want a video take on the meanness of Mr. Scrooge, check out this YouTube with the Muppets. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXhWXiQXAXY

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