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A spectacular inspiration for a productivity boost

Monday, 9 December 2013 | By Taskmaster

Over the weekend, there was a traffic jam near the local oval in a sleepy hollow known as Parts Unknown.


Flatlanders passing through to the hills must have been dismayed to see traffic through town slow to a crawl. Cars were parked on nature strips for several blocks around the local footy oval. Heaven help anyone who wanted to quickly stop by the neighbouring supermarket to pick up a bottle of milk!


A sign on the oval’s fence reads: “Parts Unknown Football Club. We are the mighty fightin’ Eagles. Under 12s wanted for the 2012 season – join now!” Apparently, they’ve concocted an ingenious plan of sending a DeLorean carrying a carload of decent juniors back in time to 2012 in a bid to actually win a couple of matches for once!


Every year, the local shire throws its annual carols by candlelight on the footy club’s oval. Choirs from local churches, senior citizens clubs and schools take turns with the bands from the local pub belting out a rendition of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.


Of course, the real reason for the crowd comes after the carols: The fireworks.


The fireworks display at the end of the carols is, basically, how the local shire (literally) blows whatever budget it has left at the end of the year in one spectacular display of pyrotechnic fiscal flagrancy.


After all, if they didn’t send the cash sky high, they might be forced to either cut local rates or spend the money on something useful. And we can’t have that, now can we!


Well, they must have had a really lean budget this year, because the sky flowers were especially epic. And – Land of the Dead style – there’s nothing quite like a few firecrackers to really draw out the locals, before their zombie-like march back to the hills from whence they came.


Anyway, while sitting on a hill under the scoreboard with a couple of friends with a brandy old-fashioned in-hand, your humble correspondent couldn’t help but notice the number of smartphones in the air, recording the whole show.


Because if there's one thing that’s more spectacular than a live fireworks display against a night sky, it’s watching a blocky, poorly shot video clip of a fireworks display on a five-inch smartphone screen – right?!


No doubt, if you’ve been to a concert or any public event the past couple of years, you’ve seen the iPhones being thrown up in the air, or being waved like they just don’t care. Who wants to enjoy the moment when you can upload a poorly captured clip of it onto YouTube?


To Old Taskmaster, it seems like extra unnecessary effort for little reward. Why not sit back and enjoy the show? It’s a waste of resources! It’s inefficient!


Now, it might be easy to snicker at the kid who’s more worried about getting a good mobile clip than having a good time. But are there ways you waste resources within your business?


You don’t run a local shire council, so don’t treat your business like one.


Instead, you should aim to create a culture which encourages staff to find creative ways to boost your productivity by doing more with fewer resources.


If there’s a piece of software or equipment that can do away with a mundane task, you want to hear about it.


In established companies, eliminating unnecessary tasks is a great way to make yourself redundant, which is why employees aren’t in the habit of mentioning them.


So it’s important that your staff understand that, especially in a growing start-up, freeing up time by eliminating unnecessary tasks means they get more opportunities to spend time on interesting new projects.


So Old Taskmaster says this: Make it clear to your staff that you’re open to suggestions on how to work smarter rather than harder. In a growing business, saving time or labour isn’t being lazy – it’s being efficient!


Get it done – after the fireworks!