During the first few weeks of the fall semester, we discussed productivity in my class.

Productivity is a relative measure of outputs over inputs (i.e. cases shipped over labor hours). As a Supply Chain professional, I am called on to “deliver productivity” to my organization year-over-year (i.e. increase cases shipped with the same or less labor hours).

Productivity efforts can be realized in a number of ways. Some require a large up-front capital expenditure investment, while others may simply require a willingness to change a process. These process changes can result in improved on-time delivery, or reduce administrative overtime.

One way to find productivity projects is to analyze key metrics like cases shipped or on-time delivery that needs improvement. Other times, productivity opportunities can be found in the frustration of team members complaining about a process or procedure.

New managers might shy away when confronted by an angry team member, or handle the situation using conflict resolution training. But, I will coach the new resource to first listen for the root cause of the team member’s frustration.