Productivity through Specialization

We really have come a long way in terms of collectively being more productive. In 1908 it took about 4700 hours of work to earn enough money to buy a Model T. It takes about 1000 hours to earn enough for an ordinary car today and it has considerable more features. In 1900 the average American spent $76 of every $100 on food, clothing and shelter, today its $37. In the 1950’s it took 30 minutes of work to buy a MacDonald’s cheeseburger, today it takes 3 minutes.

Sounds great doesn’t it? But for those sceptics and us ‘big picture’ people a short discussion on what that has done to the environment needs to be had. According to Matt Ridley, author of the Rational Optimist, in places like Beijing the environment is probably deteriorating but in Europe and the Americas rivers, lakes, seas and the air are getting cleaner all of the time. He goes on so say the Thames has less sewage and more fish. Lake Erie’s water snakes, close to extinction in the 1960’s are now abundant. Bald eagles have boomed and today a car emits less pollutants going full speed than a parked car did in 1970 from leaks.

Matt Ridley repeated suggests that self-sufficiency leads to poverty. While he was referring to humankind it certainly makes sense on a much smaller scale. If you are trying to do everything, as a business or as an entrepreneur, you are certainly not giving yourself an opportunity to get good at something. Through specialization we achieve innovation and increased productivity. Both of which are critical for success.

I always hesitate to place too much emphasis on known competitors because as I see it they are not the threat. The threat comes from innovation. The innovation that makes your product or service obsolete. What Netflix is doing to companies like Blockbuster is an excellent example. If there lies the threat then there too should lie the focus.

Getting better at what you do – specializing. Developing relationships to fill in the gaps – letting others get better at what they do for you. There lies the key for today’s business – innovation and productivity through specialization.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at


About Janet, doing it better.

I grew up and still reside in Northern Alberta. While I have numerous interests I am passionate about the Peace River region, its innovation, its people, and the creative spirit that envelopes us all.

Posted on December 14, 2011, in Business Productivity, focus, innovation, productivity, productivity tools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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  1. Pingback: The Future of Business « Do it Better

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