How Productivity Misconceptions Affects Companies

02.02.20 03:35 PM
Image 1. Ferrari's team. Photo by Luc van Loon on Unsplash.

Team coordination is the key!

Companies often believe that productivity is when workers are doing their job faster, but the reality is far from that perspective. More than usually, companies utilize their workforce as computers or machines that have the sole purpose of producing results and outcomes that the company can sell.

More importantly, one big reality companies in the USA are missing is that employees are the heart of the company, the first front of advertising they have, and the primary source of networking for the institution.

If you utilize those resources correctly, acknowledging the value that every employee has to the company, then all the organizations can create the right scenario to leverage the most valuable resources they have, their employees and teams. When you watch sports, you often see a team playing together in excellent coordination. If they plan and practice enough, the productivity of the group can be very high, and they'll have the game in the pocket.

In Football, you see a team coordinating and executing every play, as indicated in the playbook, just as they practice (only great franchises, of course). In Soccer, you also see a group of players collaborating to work together every play, as the coach tries to match every individual ability, so the team works as a clock and produces sufficient goals, achieving high productivity.
Image 2. Formula One race.

But probably the most noticeable sports where you can see that coordination taken to another level is in Formula One, the motorsport. Yes, the same motorsport where only one person makes all the glory when crossing the finish line. 

What most people do not realize is the amount of coordination between all team members that have to take place for the guy that's driving to win. Looking at the pit-stop, for instance, you realize how many people work in each team or at least gives you and idea. 

At a pit stop, every person has a role, a specific task. One person holds a tire, another an impact driver, one more has only the nuts that will replace the ones on the car, so everything is in place when required. And this wasn't the case on the early days.

Image 3. Ferrari's pit crew gathers around the Formula One Car.

The average time at a pit-stop for a Formula One driver is about 2.34 seconds, during the last 2019 championships, and considering the best ten teams. The timing difference at a pit-stop can be the deciding factor for losing or winning a race. 

Such times have been getting lower and lower in recent years. Around 20 people waiting for the high-speed formula one car that will stop in front of them, every one of them already knows what they have to do, and their only focus is on the task at hand.

To achieve that level of efficiency, the teams have increased the number of people involve, simplified their tasks, and most importantly, they're coordinating in real time between other members of the team that works in different areas and locations during the race. It looks straightforward, but the impact it causes in the overall performance of the team has a greater significance.

Image 4. Red Bull pit crew in action. GIF: Michiel Toneman (YouTube)

Considering that in the early years of formula one racing, the pit-time for the best team was around 30 seconds, they made improvements to the way the pit crew worked together since those days. 

We can take those lessons learned and apply them to engineering teams, production teams, and most importantly, inter-departmental workflows, aplying the same principles franchises at Formula One have implemented. 

Having more people, for example, might be seen as higher operational costs, but what happens, in reality, is that engineers collaborate better, spending less overall-time in their tasks and reducing rework, and thus resulting in creating better design at a lower cost. Now, I'm not saying that increasing the number of engineers, technicians, or workers will directly give you many team to be productive, no matter the number of professionals, it requires them to have a plan. 

Image 5. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Planned tasks, goals, changes, and even problem-solving is the key for a team to do their job better. What we are discussing is that companies that try to overwork their employees don't have a planned workflow.  These types of companies don't have processes implemented and debated among their team members.

Implementing the right processes to generate and nurture collaboration among all engineers that work on a specific project is not a simple or easy task, companies are required to have a planning team or department that will manage this outside the daily workflow, this planning groups have to implement controls also, so they can measure and have a feedback of what they've tried. All this, while keeping in mind the end goal, to support whatever needs each engineer to have so the company can be successful.

One crucial factor to have in mind is that engineering teams, and even more engineering design teams, are a very creative group of people, and so they need to have the right environment to create and collaborate.  One key factor in these environments is time. Often companies don't have the resources to expend the time that an engineer might need to come up with a cost-effective solution. If an engineer takes its time to create a parametric modeled design, for example, the company can reuse it later at a lower cost. Thus, your teams could use more time to modified more efficiently previous models or for your team to grow their knowledge base also, or to optimize any other product.

Image 6. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash.

For any company to be able to reinvest the time for these activities, they need to implement processes that help the company to plan and understand the needs of the organization. These processes also should come from a well-planned roadmap, taking into consideration where the company wants to go or what are the directives for any specific project.

At CTGroup, we have the experience to help you organize things along the way to your success. We can work with you to measure the main areas that you want to work on, and generating the workflows and processes so your team can be more productive and continue to love their work. 

Creating a highly creative environment has been our goal. For those who want to see things getting done without the hustle of managing an engineering department, our highly motivated teams of engineers can help your shop or organization to achieve the goals and projects you have set. Let's work together!