Rant on Productivity

Friday, May 21, 2010
I will spare you the pleasantries, and cut directly to the chase: social media behind the firewall does not present any new management challenges in the public sector.

If you were a strong manager before the age of social media, you are a strong manager in the era of social media. Conversely, if you were a weak manager before social media, you are a weak one with social media. The same can be said about employees of every stripe and at all levels.

In short: poor performers are poor performers.

The only real difference is the radically transparent nature of the environment enabled by the tools and their underlying ethos: the gift economy.

Transparency is the key to efficiency in the public sector: it rapidly exposes poor performance, information hoarding, and posturing, all of which are endemic to and even rewarded in the public sector.

I simply cannot accept an argument that says: “We deny you access to tools and large chunks of the web because you will waste your time.”

Unproductive people in your organization have been unproductive for years without social media and will continue to find ways to be unproductive even if you block access to it. Why stop there? I could rhyme off a huge list of things that may take you away from your immediate work that, when looked at more closely, has an ambiguous effect on productivity: smoke breaks, coffee breaks, walks around the block, working from home (or anywhere else), lunch time workouts (which often surpass 30 minutes), walking to a meeting instead of taking a cab, etc.

If we measure productivity in terms of milliseconds spent at your workstation we might as well bring back the punch clock and get back to making widgets.

If your management strategy is based on denial then you are in denial: you really don't have a management strategy at all.

The bottom line is that social media doesn't present new challenges, it just shines some new light on old ones.

[image credit: ibai Lemon]