Empowering People to Achieve More: How Useful a Concept is Productivity?

Almost all companies desire to be more productive, and the concept is frequently invoked when there is a need to demonstrate growth, effectiveness and impact. However, what productivity means and whether it is an appropriate metric for the success of companies, and individuals, is rarely scrutinised and varies considerably across industries. For example, in industrial manufacturing, success could be producing more for less, whereas in creative industries, success could be increased consumption engagement.

The aim of this workshop is to consider how useful productivity is as a concept for thinking about what it means to succeed in work and in business, and what its relevance will be as we anticipate the future of work to comprise changes in where, how and by whom work gets done.

In the workshop we will explore the following questions:

  • What does it mean to ‘be productive’, how does this differ across industries, and at what scales can productivity be customised as a metric or in terms of activities?
  • What are the challenges of using productivity as a metric, and does the changing nature of work require a new set of metrics? If so, what might these be?
  • To what extent and in what contexts can productivity be imposed, trained, or suggested?
Brendan Murphy, Yvonne Rogers, Steve Whittaker
Microsoft Research, University College London, University of California

Series: Microsoft Research Faculty Summit