Tight Lines Advisors’ Holistic Approach to Productivity And Sustained Improvement.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the U.S. is in the midst of the longest decline in the rate of increase in worker productivity since the late 1970’s. Today’s workforce is logging longer hours but the rate of productivity increase is dropping off dramatically. The rate of improvement is at its lowest point since 1979. When the number of hours worked starts to increase faster than productivity, then “Houston we have a problem.” This invariably bleeds into standard of living and wage stagnation along with a whole list of other challenges on a national scale (a slowing GDP, interest rate fluctuations, real estate uncertainty).
Some of this slowdown may be attributed to companies sitting on their cash and not investing in new equipment and technology to spark production. In many respects, this behavior is understandable. Uncertainty breeds complacency, which feeds the low productivity syndrome. This is evident in the Wall Street’s Journal’s September article, which points to a 2016 second quarter decline in U.S. worker productivity that was steeper than initially forecast and marks the longest slide in labor productivity since the latter part of the 1970s.
Is there a solution?
Well, nobody seems to have one, or at least they don’t want to put their name on it. Washington has been “kicking the can” down the road for years. And in an election year, few if any are willing to endanger their legacy with bold policy moves. With a lack of direction from or confidence in Washington, most big businesses world would rather sit on their hands (and cash) than expand. According to many of the pundits, the best plan is no plan. It’s status quo for now, or so it would seem.
But what about businesses that are concerned about their future, brand, employees, customers and all their other stakeholders (the people affected directly or indirectly by a business)? The lights still have to be turned on in the morning. Production lines must run, orders must be filled on time, employees need to be paid, shareholders need to see progress. Life must go on for the 1000’s of businesses and millions of employees who do “give a damn.” Any anxiety from the C-suite will permeate throughout an organization and can adversely affect employee morale and productivity. What can thoughtful businesses do? Do they have to wait for a turnaround in the economy or some technical indicators to signal the worst is over?
John Abplanalp, a Manufacturing Business Consultant and Founder of Tight Lines Advisors, believes that most organizations have what’s needed to overcome and even prosper in a stagnant economy. According to Abplanalp, “The best solutions that spark more productivity and growth comes from the inside, and involve the things that we can control. Businesses need a fresh, more progressive way of looking at their culture, processes and internal resources. When they do, they can fully leverage all their assets, and real improvements that are sustainable can occur rather quickly, though they are not necessarily dependent on large capital expenditures for new equipment.” Business leaders need to listen to all the stakeholders in their organization, from the floor worker to the C-suite to the customers. Organizations that fully leverage their internal stakeholders first not only increase their productivity, they also achieve increased levels of morale, innovation, growth, and of course, profit and value. And, they don’t need to wait for a “favorable” economy to do it.
Once the productivity “snowball” gets rolling, it takes on a life of its own. Small improvements lead to larger ones. When every stakeholder’s input is valued, the whole organization benefits. External forces like GDP and inflation take a backseat to forward progress. “It’s exciting for everyone involved when an organization begins to transform from the inside out with the help of the Tight Lines holistic approach to real, sustainable improvement,” added Abplanalp. In the end, with the right set of tools, companies can choose “not to participate” in economic slowdowns. The smart ones move forward with a proactive game plan, and Tight Lines Advisors helps them do just that.