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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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One response to “The productivity dilemma: standardize processes but then stiff progress”

  1. The first law of IT is ‘Don’t Automate Broken Processes.’
    Too many process-mongers confuse efficiency and effectiveness. Think of it as doing things right v. doing the right thing. Few processes are truly rethought, reimagined; there are too many people with too much invested.
    Consider e-billing. Is it a reimagining of the vendor-buyer (a/k/a firm-client) relationship, or is it automation of traditional invoicing? It had the potential to create a different and ultimately more interconnected relationship, but with a few exceptions, over the past ten years it’s largely been version 1.1 of the way legal invoicing’s been done for 100 years.