I posted about the nine practices of high performance teams. None of the practices are particularly difficult, so why do so many companies seem to stifle the kinds of productive behaviors they want?

I believe that corporate environments suffer from productivity killing practices that seem minor when viewed individually, but which have a multiplicative effect when combined. When I say a multiplicative effect, I mean that if you have three items, each of which halve productivity, the result is 0.5*0.5*0.5 or just 12.5% of the original productivity. What this means is that if you have many items which adversely impact productivity, the multiplicative effect is really what matters most, not the individual effect of each item. For example, if you have 5 items, each of which reduces productivity by a relatively small 20%, the cumulative, multiplicative effect is still quite large: 0.8*0.8*0.8*0.8*0.8 = 32% productivity.

Given just how important productivity is to the health of a business, it is sad just how many productivity killers corporate environments suffer from. Here’s the list:

  1. Failing to identify and take action on most important objectives: (50%)
  2. Excessive effort and time to get commitment to needed projects: Classic under-capitalization (50%)
  3. Failing to capitalize on expertise, interest, and capabilities that exist: (25%)
  4. Failure to rapidly iterate: having long cycles of planning, production and then release. (25%)
  5. Information silos: Being unable to easily find the right people, information, documentation to get done what you need. (10%)
  6. Cancelled projects due to overcommitment of resources: (10%)