29 October 2005

Productivity = Value/Time

A Tale of Two Workers: Smith saves your company $1 million over a 100-hour effort. Rivera saves your company $1 million in 15 minutes. Who is more valuable?

Obviously, Rivera. And yet, in Puerto Rico, Smith will most likely get paid more.


First of all, because his surname is “Smith.” You think The Jenius is joking? You locals know He’s right.

Second of all, because in Puerto Rico, We believe working hard is more valuable than working smart. So Smith will submit a bill for US$5,000, the local executive will see “$50 an hour” and sign it (albeit with gritted teeth.) Rivera submits a bill for US$5,000 and the local executive will (a) yell, (b) laugh harshly, (c) react in utter and complete disbelief or (d) all of the above. (Note: $5,000 is still dirt cheap compared to the benefit...)

And yet, We understand and acknowledge that Rivera’s contribution is more valuable than Smith’s, because the ultimate value (savings) was delivered in less time. So why don’t We seek more Riveras by paying them what they deserve instead of pursuing Smiths and overpaying their sorry…butts?

And lest you think this is an “Us versus Them” thing, here’s the same argument in direct terms: Why don’t We seek more productivity by paying what it deserves instead of blindly pursuing time-based mediocrity?

The formula for Productivity is Value divided by Time: P = V/T. In Puerto Rico, we make a fetish of Time, equating it with Value. We think that someone putting in 40 hours is somehow more valuable than someone who puts in 20. (Let’s call this The Fools’ Formula, for they have perfected the damn thing into an art form.) Back when factory workers dominated the economic scene, more hours often meant more value. If your job was to produce X number of pieces per hour, then 20X is obviously less than 40X.

But We are no longer factory workers, or piecemeal producers. We are knowledge workers, information processors, individual economic units each capable of near-infinite Value in near-instantaneous Time. In simpler terms, Our Productivity is virtually infinite.

How do We get closer to that ideal? By improving Our Value and reducing the Time We achieve it in. And no, this doesn’t mean “work harder.” It means:

--Find where you can add the most Value.

--Learn ways to make better use of your Time.

--Make sure you get paid based on your Productivity, not on some other useless standard.

And if you think about these simple steps, you will eventually notice that they require constant learning and an objective assessment of your skills and talents. Constant learning is a given: if you’re not doing it now, you’ll be doing it in the future. Or you’ll be asking if someone wants an apple pie or sundae with their combo.

The objective assessment will come from who hires you, for how much and how much in demand you are. The path here is to work for good clients, at fair market value (for the productivity you bring to the table) and how you present your value-adding skillset to the market.

Imagine what you could achieve if you focused on Productivity. Imagine what Puerto Rico could achieve if We focused on Productivity.

Let’s make it happen.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

No comments: