Interview with Mårten Mickos • Productive! Magazine

Interview with Mårten Mickos • Productive! Magazine.

The interview is actually interesting. But let’s look at one, fairly important, item:


Michael:If you had to name three productivity-boosting tips that helped your remote team stay productive and motivated, what would they be?

Mårten:Firstly, as the leader, you must go all in. You must be entirely online. You can’t just put your professional self online for your colleagues. You must share your personality with them, too. You must show your vulnerabilities.

Second thing is that in this modern online world, command-and-control doesn’t work. The only real tools you have as a leader are vision and culture. So as the leader, you must spend a lot of time discussing and communicating the vision. And you must spend a lot of time instilling the right culture. You must remember to thank people even for small things. You must reach out to people and help them see how their work fits into what the company is doing. It’s a lot of signalling that you must be doing.

Last but not least, you must automate a lot, and measure a lot. With great tools and with great reporting, everyone can be productive and everyone can know where we are going. (Emphasis mine.)

Does one have to automate a lot? I can see the advantage, but is the result actually a more productive staff or workforce? Or just one that does the company equivalent of studying for the test? No doubt, in the instances that Marten is thinking of, worker productivity can be measured as a kind of quantity: bugs fixed, yes, but also work that lacks bugs needing fixing; list participation, yes, but also whether the posts are just noise or actually start threaded conversations. And so on.

But it’s not always so easy (not that measuring any social activity with any shred of accuracy is easy). As the idea of measuring scientific quality by measuring the quantity of citations to the scientist or study is under some pressure, so too I would suggest that certain kinds of value are less obviously numerable. That does not mean it cannot be done or even ought not to be done, though at some point the doing of it seems less than compelling. (What’s gained, especially in a smallish company?)

As well, the very context of panoptical scrutiny, as infinite measuring implies, would likely lead, for a good many, to workplace discomfort and anxiety. So, just as a problem with education’s constant testing is to dampen anything that falls outside the tests’ frame (and is by definition disruptive), so too in corporate culture.

So, perhaps room for whatever, including disruptive dissent and unlinking? Carnivals, in short, that function as places outside, and allow for what could also be called, creative destruction.