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Productivity Improvement

"The effectiveness of a production effort" | The age old question of how to get more out of the resources you have. This week, we take an in-depth look at the questions you have about productivity improvement and some tips & tech to help your company take its productiveness to the next level.

It is a pretty vague question, isn't it?

What exactly would it mean to be more productive and how would we measure it? To kick off this article, I'll cite a quick blog from The New York Times about the three basics of productivity. The three are as follows:

1) Trust the small incitements - Every effort isn't going to entail an entire overhaul of your whole enterprise. Small changes to processes over years is what keeps companies ahead.

2) Be accountable - Whether it be weekly check-ins or quarterly analysis of KPI's, don't let your metrics fall by the wayside.

3) Forgive yourself - Not every technological or procedural implementation will make big strides. Understand failures and continue to strive for success.

Now the next big idea to tackle: the misconception that your employees can multitask.

Neuroscientists and psychologists across the board agree that it is physically impossible for humans to truly multitask, or to fully focus their efforts on two or more tasks effectively at the same time.

However, managers believe that their employees are more than capable of doing this; superheroes of sorts. The key to this is job specialization. When skilled employees can be given on task to specifically focus on, especially in the manufacturing industry, productivity will innately increase. This was the ideology that drove the creation of the assembly line and still holds true to this day.

So who is doing it right? Honestly, Germany knows what's up.

Often when speaking to manufacturing managers or those managing supply-chain/logistics companies, they immediately think Japan when the word "productivity" is mentioned due to all of the Japanese diction that is correlated with Lean Six Sigma practices. However, Germany has many country-wide practices they adopt to help them stay holistically productive.

Don't. Work. Sick.

"Guten morgen". In other words, if you get sick, go home and don't come back until you are well. Germans take personal health and wellness very seriously and promote a good work-life balance. The average German manufacturing laborer works 35-hour weeks; a far cry from the 49-hour weeks of the average American manufacturing laborer. Conversely, the productivity levels do not drop off. Their workers are working more effectively with clear heads, working both quicker and more efficiently.

Relaxation is important

German companies such as Volkswagen allow for many more "employee rest days" than American companies and offer expanded vacation days. They see that proper laborer/manager relationships and the reduction of work-related psychological illnesses potentially will increase productivity levels by allowing their workers to put their full effort into their jobs. With this reduction of labor hours, managers are given a double sided coin: more pleased and harder working employees, but less labor hours and a need to implement process improvements and technology to engage this issue.

Tech Talk

There is too many tools out on the internet for managers not to leverage them to aid in their production efforts. The following are some applications that we at Mainspring think you should look into implementing into your businesses that will help you become more productive. And as always, be sure to check out our "App of the Month" blog on our website for additional tools.


Slack is a cloud-based enterprise communications system that helps you manage your team and engage with your team in an intuitive and unique way. It's 3rd party plug-ins help connect you to the apps you use most often and share them via Slack messenger. Integrated search functionality allows users to easily track files or former messages from others more readily than through standard email. I use Slack personally and would recommend this to anybody for more streamlined intra-company communications.


Buffer is your all in one profile management tool, allowing for all of your social media platforms or blog sites to be engaged and linked together. This mitigates the need to login to all of your accounts and individually post on different sites. Buffer is your one-stop shop for all postings and customer engagement.


Asana is a web/mobile app to help teams track their work and manage their products. This application allows for intuitive project & task management, provides a sleek communication system for quick team chats, scheduling functionality, custom dashboards, work tracking, metrics/analytics for project process, and much more!


Trello is a to-do list on steroids. It keeps your entire team in-sync and is a consistently updating list of tasks to ensure that nobody works on the same tasks and keeps everyone aware of the entire team's deadlines and tasks. Never again will your team not know which task or project to tackle first.

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