The 10x productivity revolution isn’t about a tenfold workload increase. Instead, it’s about amplifying efficiency, effectiveness, and impact ten times over by reframing focus from mere output to quality outcomes. It’s about doing more with less and understanding that constraints aren’t barriers but opportunities for focused innovation.
All organizations could benefit from such a shift, but some like the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) could benefit much more. From the outside, it appears to be a bureaucratic mess; with complexities and numerous competing priorities, the system seems inefficient. I often think the NHS has a product management problem, not a management problem. However, it most likely has both. If the NHS focused on customer experience (CX), customer journey mapped its services/products focused initially on its citizens’ most crucial healthcare needs, the NHS could provide superior patient outcomes and service, and reduce system inefficiencies. It should be a world-class organization with its customer data that could drive AI and its monopoly on the market. In the world of software as a service, and service as software the NHS fails to demonstrate the power of joined-up, thinking, leveraging its data assets for AI and connecting its patience with joined-up experiences that enhance their lives by supporting prevention and treatment. Instead, it’s a collection of disparate pieces, all using different systems and technologies, separate leadership, and teams, driving separate agendas. The admin and cost of such a disconnected way of working must be astronomical. One of the deliberate decisions that good product managers make is to build, buy or partner decisions. This approach could shift towards a collaborative, outcome-focused system from the current fragmented, business model. Moreover, it could foster a culture that values innovation, problem-solving, and individual empowerment. So what are organizations like the NHS to do?
The 10x Mission
As proponents of the 10x revolution, our mission is to embrace novel leadership methods, innovative thinking, and efficient work practices. Our goal is to eradicate unproductive ‘busy work’ and consistently deliver value that is customer-centric, sustainable, and mindful of constraints. To fulfil this mission, we must champion diverse cultures, modern leadership styles, and outcome-based measurements that align with our organisation’s objectives. We need to foster an agile mindset, focusing on customers and value and ensuring our processes and tools are fit for purpose.
The following 10x productivity principles:
- Focus on Customer Value: Prioritise your customers’ needs and desires in every undertaking.
- Outcomes Over Output: Success is measured by your impact on your customers and organisation, not merely the volume of work produced.
- Constrained Innovation: View limitations and constraints as opportunities for creativity and innovation.
- Unleash Productivity: Eliminate “busy work” and unnecessary tasks that distract from your goals.
- Continuous Learning: Always strive to improve and grow, remaining curious and open to new ideas.
While prioritising outcomes over outputs isn’t new, it’s paramount in our AI-dominated era. It means adopting a holistic approach to productivity measurement, factoring in aspects such as employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and sustainability.
Goal-setting is often a challenging task for many businesses. Microsoft’s Rhythm of Business (ROB) process, involving monthly check-ins and progress tracking against objectives, stands out as an effective approach. Another proven method is the use of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), a tool for setting and achieving specific, measurable, and time-bound goals, as advocated by John Doerr, the famous venture capitalist.
Redefining Knowledge Work
Knowledge work will fundamentally change as we shift focus from ‘busy work’ to problem-solving, leveraging our unique human capabilities and emotional intelligence. This change involves identifying and eradicating ‘busy work,’ tasks that add minimal or no value. I propose classifying knowledge work into Reactionary Work, Planning Work, Procedural Work, and Problem-Solving Work.
- Reactionary Work: This includes tasks such as responding to emails and other communication, which can consume significant time without adding substantial value.
- Planning Work: Strategic planning is essential, but the constant need to rework plans can result in a wasteful cycle. To break this cycle, we must focus on executing and measuring the impact of our plans.
- Procedural Work: These tasks deal with ways of working. When done right, procedural work can help organisations create new, unique ways of operating, codifying their core competencies.
- Problem-Solving Work: The most valuable for organisations and the most fulfilling for workers, problem-solving work is engaging and motivating. It allows us to find new and creative ways to solve problems.
Embracing the 10x productivity revolution requires us to ask: Should you hire that next person? It’s essential to consider how much time your team spends on problem-solving work that adds value to your organisation. Before making your next hire, think about how you can harness constraints to drive performance and achieve the 10x shift.
Stay tuned for the next chapter, where I will explore the productivity paradox and how embracing constraints can help you drive better performance.