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Why Increased Productivity is Unpopular

Friday, September 30, 2011 by Slaughter Development

People often think that the productivity consulting business should be in high demand. But there’s a terrible secret: increased productivity requires change, and people hate change.

A striking example is an invention that you’ve probably never heard of. It was created in the 1940s and is cheaply available. By one calculation, it can save 30,000 hours of work over the course of a lifetime. Once you understand it, you’ll wonder why they haven’t been installed everywhere. It’s the dish-draining closet:

That’s right: hand wash a dish and stick it in the dish-draining closet. The wire racks and open bottom allow for water to drip out and land in the sink. No more leaving dishes out on the counter. No more laborious hand-drying with a dishcloth. Just put the dish away wet, and it will dry on it’s own behind closed doors.

Not surprisingly, millions of the dish-draining closets have been sold. Billions of hours have been put to better use than drying dishes by hand. So why haven’t you seen one before? Where are all of these labor-saving cabinets?

The answer: they are mostly in Finland.

The dish-draining closet was invented by Maiju Gebhard at the Finnish Association for Work Efficiency. It even won an award as one of the most important Finnish inventions of the millennium, according to the Finnish Invention Foundation. A few have made it to other European countries, but for the most part, there’s only place to find this incredible creation. If you want to see a dish-draining closet, your best bet is to hop a plane for the Republic of Finland.

The message here should be clear: productivity consulting is a tough sell because people are resistant to change. A simple, inexpensive invention can save the average home oodles of time in drying dishes, but most people have a hard time making a switch. Imagine what improvements are possible in your organization if you are actually open-minded to new possibilities?

Finally, resistance to change can actually be an advantage. If everyone else is afraid to try something new, your firm might be able to move ahead of the competition. Make a change. Consider reaching out to Slaughter Development. We’d love to talk about ways to help your firm be more productive at work.

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5 Responses to “Why Increased Productivity is Unpopular”

  1. Steve Boller Says:

    This is spot on. For most people, a willingness to put in hours of time is not the issue. People are resistant to change but it requires them to make new synaptic connections and put the brain to work on an unfamiliar activity. The older people get, the harder it is to change old patterns. I imagine this principle holds true with companies as well.

  2. Steve Boller Says:

    *People are resistant to change BECAUSE it requires them to…


  3. Robby Slaughter Says:

    Thanks for the comments, Steve!

    Interestingly, the research on resistance to change shows that a bigger effect is how *long* you’ve been doing something, not so much your age. So a 65-year old who has been doing the same job for only one year will generally speaking adapt more easily than a 30-year old who has been doing the same job for ten years.

  4. Lars Says:

    I’d say that there are other factors that contribute to resistance to change. Fear of loss of privileges and fear of loss of identity is in my mind major contributing factors,

    When I see how change is handled, I am not really surprised why people loathe change.

  5. Robby Slaughter Says:

    Lars, you are right that there is a big difference between requiring others to change and just changing yourself.

    In the case of the dish-draining closet, there is probably not a supervisor forcing it upon you. Adding one to your kitchen will not impact your “privileges” or your “identity.”

    Instead, I think this change is difficult because it is unfamiliar. We are all automatically afraid of what we do not know, even if the new idea is clearly beneficial.

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