Bureaucracy, Computers, Productivity, Solow, Paradox, Agile, Economists

Bureaucracy, Computers

Why Computers Didn’t Improve Productivity

Why Computers Didn’t Improve Productivity

8/4/2021 12:00:00 PM

Why Computers Didn’t Improve Productivity

Bureaucracy And Computers Are A Marriage Made In Hell

. Software programmers were seen as culprits and were punished. They worked harder. They labored evenings and weekends. They were fired. It made no difference. The software was still late, over budget, and full of bugs. Replacements were hired, but they did no better.

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Standard management practices did not seem to work with big software systems. Managers found that the more they sought to control things, the less progress they made. The more staff they added,. Complexity did not respond to authority. Billions of dollars were being lost. Something different

hadto be found. But in the course of the search to find a better way, computer departments acquired a reputation for bad management.Computers and Bureaucracy: A Marriage Made In HellMeanwhile the advent of minicomputers in the 1960s, and then personal computers, in the 1970s, democratized access to computing. Now everyone in the white-collar workforce had access to a computer. And indeed, computers enabled much more work to be done. headtopics.com

One or two redrafts of documents became incessant revisions. Individual reviews turned into multiple levels of reviews and further rework. Staff found themselves preparing, and then sitting through, endless PowerPoint presentations.Spreadsheets spawned massive amounts of data analysis. Yet different computing programs often couldn’t interact with each other. Data was shipped back and forth, or up and down corporate hierarchies, or across different systems, or unbundled and re-bundled, or transformed into analog and then re-transformed back into digital.

The Spread of Unproductive WorkAs anthropology professor David Graeber explained in his landmark book,Bullshit Jobs: A Theory(Simon & Schuster 2018), the workplace became riddled with useless work: “HR consultants, communications coordinators, PR researchers, financial strategists, corporate lawyers, or the sort of people … who spent their time staffing committees that discuss the problem of unnecessary committees.”

Graeber’s analyses suggested that in large organizations, as much as half of all work was being done by five categories of unproductive jobs:·      Flunkies, who serve to make their superiors feel important.·      

Goons, including lobbyists, corporate lawyers, telemarketers, and public relations specialists.·      Duct tapers·      Box tickers, who create the appearance that something useful is being done. headtopics.com

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·      Taskmasters, who create extra work including middle managers.An Explosion of KPIsAs the quantity of useless work grew with the help of computers, bureaucracies developed devices to prove that their work was useful. Key performance indicators (KPIs) that supposedly defined what was important to perform by any person or unit flourished like mushrooms.

In practice, KPIs were mainly used to justify the bureaucracy, rather than to help determine whether any activity was creating genuine benefit for any external customer. Masses of computerized KPIs helped managers prove—to themselves and to their bosses—that what they were doing was useful.

The Solution: Agile ManagementIn the (good) old days before computers, you didn’t send unproductive emails. You just did what needed to be done.And that’s what happens now in the winning firms of the digital era that have made the transition to. All work, including computing, is focused on what will add value to

externalcustomers. So, you don’t send those unproductive emails: you are working in a team with a clear mandate on a customer-focused set of tasks in a sprint—i.e. work with a. You don’t need to continually check in with a steep hierarchy or with an army of reviewers. You just get on with it and get it done. headtopics.com

It’s not that computers aren’t Read more: Forbes »

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What kind of photo is that ? Getting mixed messages here.. They ruined it Computers aren't the leader - they only follow the human brain input. Probably not the best photo to use This photo... such questions... Because users of computers were on Facebook?

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