From my newsletter a couple of weeks ago.

What is productivity in this age, not only in manufacturing, but also in knowledge work? Do the old rules still apply? And, above all, how can we bring humanity into the workplace?

Seth Godin has written many books worth your time reading. His latest book, Song of Significance, is packed with thoughts that both inform and prod into action.

His themes according to my reading include bringing humanity into the workplace, doing work that is significant, meaning creating meaningful change.

My wife was discussing Facebook and other social media and why they all keep developing ways to capture your attention–not always in a good way (seldom in a good way). She asked why they do it. I told her it was to maximize income. It has nothing to do with serving people. In fact, people are their product. They sell people’s attention to advertisers.

Godin responds in this book as he has consistently in his books on marketing that the goal is providing useful goods and services to people. You win by serving.

I told my wife that in my career I’ve been in numerous meetings where the subject is how to increase sales. Only a few were about how to create a better product for our customers and prospects. One consumer products company I worked at for about a year 40 years ago still has product recalls. I’m not surprised. The culture hasn’t changed (even though the name has) in all this time.

Culture defeats strategy.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about productivity. Industry pundits have bemoaned that productivity as defined classically (output per hour worked) has not grown. You can define productivity in manufacturing by how many widgets per hour. But even there, perhaps they should look at how many good widgets per hour.

But for knowledge workers (whose number can and should include trades people as well as desk workers) how do you define productivity when so much work involves working with other people? And generating good ideas? And developing good ideas into businesses. These things are not instantaneous rates of change. Trash the calculus and look at statistics as a model.

Get this latest Seth Godin book. Read it, then read it again. Mark it up. Keep it on your desk.

You can check out my thoughts on recent Siemens Digital, Hexagon, and Honeywell Process conferences on my business blog. For my thinking on personal growth and development, check out this website.

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