The productivity dilemma: standardize processes but then stiff progress

“The routines put in place to enhance productivity often hinder the practices that foster learning” This dispiriting trade-off comes from the Acad. Mgt. Rev., 2011, Vol. 36 at 461. Some scholars refer to this as the productivity dilemma: do something with formalized consistently and you retard improvement.

Law department managers want to lock-down repetitive activities, which speeds handling and improves overall quality. At the same time, once a process is codified and rules adhered to, those who follow the defined path have less incentive or reason to think of improvements. The same could be said about form documents. Standards clash with kaizen and one of them has to give ground.

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