Productivity is rooted in social health

April 14, 2016


Productivity is a measure of how effective a person or group is in producing something of value. We can measure a person’s productivity, a group’s productivity or the productivity of a business. When we measure productivity we are measuring growth over time.

From 1979 to 1990, I participated in several research projects with the University of Oregon concerning the social care of people with developmental disabilities. We used productivity measures in an interesting way. The measure of a person’s productivity was also the measure of our own productivity. We would graph productivity over time to judge how effective we were in supporting people who were moving out of life threatening state institutions to community based services. Since that time I have studied value creation in business, NGOs and in communities around the world.

Productivity is health. Individual productivity improves when a person is respected, loved, listened to, cared for, has the freedom to act and works in a system that makes empirical decisions. Productivity suffers when a person is not respected, not accepted, is not cared for, is micro-managed and works in a management system that uses opinions and judgments to make decisions.

Social health improves in relational behaviors that are loving, supportive, collaborative, caring, trusting, kind and respectful. Social health suffers in relational behaviors that are controlling, dishonest, hateful, aggressive, manipulative and self-centered.

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