01 November 2005

The productivity equation

What is productivity?

Personal growth expert Steve Pavlina has a great definition:

Productivity = Value/Time (productivity equals value created divided by time spent)

Steve points out that you can increase your productivity in two ways:
1) Increase the value created
2) Decrease the time required to create that value

You can decrease the time requirement by getting more efficient, but eventually you will hit a point of diminishing returns, where getting more efficient won't be worth the effort. However, there is no ceiling to the amount of value you can create, so Steve suggests (and I agree) that value is a better place to focus.

What is value?
Steve says you need to define it for yourself, but he has an equation for this also:

Value = Impact x Endurance x Essence x Volume

Impact: Who gets the value? How much do they get? Is there a ripple or network effect, where others see value as well?

Endurance: How long does it last? Is it quickly forgotten or does it regenerate?

Essence: How important is it to the people who get it? How do ethy value it? Would they pay for it? Could they imagine living without it? Could they care less?

Volume: How much of it can you create? Does it scale?

So putting productivity and value together you get

Productivity = (Impact x Endurance x Essence x Volume)/Time

Steve follows this by making an interesting point:
"... most of the productivity literature focuses almost exclusively on volume and time. But those are the most limiting parts of this equation. However, they’re also the easiest to write about."

Read more in Steve's post: What is productivity?

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