Productivity is dependent on and interwoven with so many things that anytime anyone pushes "more productive" I wonder...
If you're "productive" and you get 3 things done in a day, or in a week even...
The Many Measures of Productivity
- Were the 3 things done actually the important ones? (i.e. do they create value? reduce drag or improve velocity?)
- How are you able to actually measure the effect/impact of the 3 things? Against what baseline and over what time period?
- Do those 3 things even matter if the market suddenly shifted away from your product/segment/industry?
- Do they contradict previous features/changes? (i.e. did they create confusion rather than clarity?)
- Were 3 things being compared to 1, or were they being compared to 30? (If expectations aren't correctly set and met you cannot ever be "productive")
- Does anybody even know that you did those 3 things? ("if a tree falls..." and "success has many fathers")
When getting 3 things "done", did you ignore the cost of quality?
- Does it actually solve the intended problem?
- Are there unacceptable side effects or regressions?
- Do you even want to know the answers to the previous two questions?
Without test automation you probably have a feature or code that cannot be validated:
How will this value persist when the next bug fix or refactor occurs?
With code that is unreadable and therefore unmaintainable:
- Will the next developer be unable to fix a bug or maybe just removes the code entirely?
- Will you be unable to grow your organization as you cannot find anyone to work on your codebase anymore?
Did these changes dramatically increase the complexity of the architecture or the product?
Was this "done" at the expense of burnout of an individual or the team?
Who will continue development of the feature or product?
How do these changes affect operational complexity or cost? Does crashing often or going bankrupt faster count as productivity?
Is this just squeezing the complexity bubble or shifting the burden?
In "getting things done" did you burn bridges within your organization? What about partners or existing customers?
Did you make a small subset happier at the expense of a much larger group?
What about the future, did you just trade loyal customers for a new ephemeral cohort?
John's Chain of Value
Stable usage > experimental usage with feedback > released and distributed > in master and in testing > reviewed and merged > in testing in a branch > a pushed commit > some code > a plan > a proposal > an unshared idea
Things become more valuable as they become more real
(becoming widely distributed/adopted for more people is a kind of proof that it actually solves a problem)
Traditional Methods of Productivity
There are amazing methods and techniques to "sustainably" and reliably create the "right thing" that is the "tipping point feature" of a "killer app" where you can measure and watch your key metrics and indicators go "up and to the right".
"Everyone loves a winner" and survivor bias certainly helps but...
The simplest way, in our capitalism-with-money-as-a-fungible-intermediary, is to receive dollars. :$
Yup, very crass, and a "lagging indicator" is not nearly as exciting as "clicks" or "eyeballs" or "MAU/DAU/HAU", but...
When you get people to part with their money you have definitely convinced them of some value.
Organizations that have lasted longer, with the same people in them, are likely the ones that have figured out a process for delivering value.
But maybe, instead of focusing on being productive, you should figure out how to get old and rich. =p
Doing Something Different
While imitation is the sincerest form of attempting to copy someone else's financial success, competition in a "race to the bottom" can turn a "win-win" into a "zero-sum" and then a "lose-lose".
Productivity should therefore also be compared against not only "what-is" but the "not-yet-imagined".
Strategy is creating a rising tide that lifts all boats. Tactics is poking holes in other people's stuff.
So go on then, be productive!