The break even point. We all know what it is. It is the point at which my investment has been gained back. Anything after that is just pure profit. So I invest in developing a new product and invest $100k in research, development, first production and customer trials. I then have to sell and gain $100k profit to get, effectively my money back.
So what has this got anything to do with productivity?
Well do you remember that time when you started to report to a new manager. Now for the last one you had to do a weekly report and you had to put lot of effort in to analyse the data and produce the report. However you were never really convinced it was really read or certainly that all your efforts brought value. So with the new manager in place, you decided to stop doing the report. Just to see how long it would take for its absence to be noticed. On one hand you were astonished that it was never mentioned and yet on the other it just confirmed what you always knew deep down – it was of little value. I did the same many a times. Once I reduced the KPI metrics by 75% – and No one noticed!
In other words my investment (time and effort) required was much lower and so was the break even point.
In everything we do there is always a break even point. We need to figure out what it is. I had a look at what I have to do (and sometimes just do) on a regular basis. I took the Understand, Simplify and Act (also known as USa) approach.
1) UNDERSTAND – LIST ALL THE MAIN RE-OCCURRING TASKS
We all carry out or have to carry out certain tasks . Some of these are done on different days and other at different times. So let’s list them all for the week. If it helps to create a list based on location (office, home etc) then do that too.
2) UNDERSTAND – CATEGORISE THEM IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE ( & VALUE)
Now go through the list and categorise them. There are different ways of doing this but I prefer to do is terms of Effort (A=High and B=Low). The same goes for value gained again either A or B. Some are absolutely mandatory so they are A’s anyway. You will then end up with a quadrant for A-A, A-B, B-A, and B-B.
Next let’s see if we can reduce the list. First the B-B. These are low effort task but also those that bring little value. Lots of little tasks still add up so can we delegate them or better still stop doing them altogether, after all the value gained is low anyway.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the A-A. Now these are high effort but also produce high value. Not doing these or delegating these are likely not to be an option. However we can do a deeper dive on them. There may well be steps we can omit (especially the non-value added steps), reduce or simplify, or automate. Be ruthless as there are always steps or methodology improvements. Next would be to ask yourself when the best time is to complete these. Does it need your attention and a clear mind so morning might be better etc.
Lastly now that we have ran it up and down the pole a few times, it is time to put your plan into action.
Go for and continue to monitor.