Productivity in highly developed countries of our world is not growing anymore. It used to constantly go higher and higher each year for many decades, but it stopped now. Bad news are faster to spread, so probably you have heard it and you are in consternation. But maybe not, maybe you care more about your own individual productivity (and income) growth, so these global trends don't bother you. If this is the case, you are in the right place, welcome to Personal Analytics world, where we take productivity personally! However, you may still be concerned with it, because if there is some reason for that and this reason tramps across the world, it may knock at your door one day and you will be busted. Can you believe it?
Not being so frightened with that (yet), but out of pure interest I have read New York Times article by Neil Irwin about this phenomenon, presenting interesting spectrum of theories. Here they shortly are:
Pessimistic one. It's true. Terribly true. Everyone knows that managers and specialists for years were doing everything possible to get more. We've been through this, they were redesigning our workplaces, reorganizing our days, straining their ideas to encourage and motivate us, revealing every hidden bit of productivity they could find. So here we are, they got it all. We always feared that it cannot be done forever and now that's the end of it. We'll all die of hunger.
Neutral one. It's not true, nothing's wrong. They are just making it wrong. They are always counting money because it's the easiest, but there's a lot more, that you cannot measure. The work is easier and better. You can see it at every turn. We all have powerful aids, business cell phones and cars, shinier and more comfortable offices. Don't forget that our work is becoming friendly for environment and socially aware. That's all value, lots and lots of value. We are not only making more, but much better. They just don't see.
Optimistic one. It's not true at all. Even more, it's terribly false. World is investing like it never did. They have means like they never did and they use it. It's just in latency phase, so the results are not visible immediately, but when they will… Examples? You surely know these freaky billionaires, who put their money in unbelievable things. They design space shuttles and it's not taken from our taxes but to return the input manyfold. You can see first flights already. How many years they are making these self-driving cars, putting billions into it and you have barely seen them working yet. But when they will, it's obvious they will boost the productivity like steam machine did in revolution times. And this guy in Tesla who wants to change the world, not mentioning Gates'es, which invest in fighting diseases so we will be able to live and work better. And it's only several things from the news.
These are obviously different views of the same world, but not just views, it's actual, and it's amazing that each of these seem convincing, reasonable, even capturing, while all of them cannot be right, can they? Well, you have to remember the most common error humans make, that if something can be, doesn't mean it is. Even if it's called hope or it's called doubts or sometimes distrust. I really sympathise the most with economists that would die (not literally, of course) for being able to tell which one is true and where. Easy, they have a lot of clues, but let's not spoil this crystal picture with doubts and discussions. So many people these days take just one of the views, totally convinced it's the only one.
It's interesting to translate these theories into individual perspectives. Let's imagine this. – Yes, I have learned a lot and it was quite an effort, I got a job that fit's me, so I did what I could to perform the best. I really pulled my weight to it. I would know if I wasn't. So, is there anything I can do more? – It only looks like I'm just working as usual. I do things with ease now, more orderly, no doubts. I am not that stressful, I take care of the family and put weight to my health. That all matters and you shouldn't forget it. It's not only cash! – Now that I have it under control, I can really start to evolve. Everything I do makes me learn more, not mentioning possibilities to develop that my company offers. I have got means, I have perspectives and orientation and I have new chances. I'm sure I will go high, just wait and admire!
When you look at it like this, it does not seem that contradicting. The first one feels pessimistic and closing, but only until you will honestly answer this question at the end – to find what you can really do more. But actually these are all possibilities just ready to achieve. If you decide it can be, it will be – as I would traverse the popular mistaken belief I mentioned earlier.
All you need now is some passion in finding the truths in all of these views (and questions). Looking closely at yourself from different perspectives, we can notice many things about us. The efforts that we've made so far, how truly we are to themselves, what we have reached and what yet we haven't, what counts the most, other things that matters, who we have become, who we can make of ourselves… I hope Personal Analytics idea will help you and guide you in this quest. It can be your sword and your shiny armour while you are discovering yourself.