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This entry was postedon Sunday, August 5th, 2012 at 12:14 pmand is filed under Productivity Quotes, Quote of the week. I am often asked: In what areas of an organization can productivity improvements make the most positive impact? Productivity improvement is a broad field and can include anything from looking at how to increase organizational capital for better innovation, to effects of government policy on an organization’s productivity, to organizational design and how that impacts productivity, and to how to use technology to improve an organization’s competitiveness. Where productivity improvement can make the most positive impact in an organization depends on what area of the organization is performing most poorly.
The first is using a task level analysis to determine whether a task can be done more quickly. The second way for determining areas of productivity improvement is at a structural or ‘big picture’ level.
Conduct a diagnosis and needs assessment to identify the systems and processes contributing to poor productivity in the organization. Based on the “what needs to be addressed” items discovered during diagnosis, prepare an action plan that details how you will improve productivity in problem areas including alternatives for each action item. Based on the alternatives presented in your action plan, select the appropriate action items for implementation. Prepare an implementation plan outlining how to implement each action item including how productivity improvement for each action item will be measured. Implement the action items and manage the change by training all staff in new policies, processes and procedures that reflects how the action items will improve productivity in the organization.
At three, six and 12 month intervals, conduct an audit of the implemented action items and using the established measures of success, determine if productivity has improved. Manage the change by conducting regular audits of each implemented action item to ensure that productivity is sustained or continues to improve. Every one or two years, repeat the process in the same or other areas to gain continuous improvement across the entire organization. If you follow these 8 steps, you will gain improvements in productivity in your organization in the areas that are in most need of improvement and therefore, where your organization will see the most positive impact.
Mary’s blog, Powering Productivity, provides compelling and practical ideas on how to dramatically increase your business efficiencies and your bottom line.
Mary Colak was hired by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) to develop an implementation plan for our records and information management program. In working with Mary, I found her to be very knowledgeable, patient, enthusiastic, an excellent facilitator and project leader. It’s been a pleasure working with Mary and based on our experience with her leading our Records Management Project we would highly recommend her. Mary Colak was part of the Education and Development Services team during a large- scale, enterprise-wide system implementation project at WorkSafeBC. Mary was a valued member of the team, known for her excellent knowledge of instructional design, ability to look at the big picture, and stay calm on a project with tight timelines. While working on the implementation of our new records classification system, I found Mary to be very knowledgeable and helpful in explaining details about the system to all staff.
Mary completed two ORCS development projects for us [while I was with the Ministry of Forests] – one for a new program area in the Ministry of Forests, and the second for Forest Renewal BC.
Mary works with a view to organizational efficiency…She quickly identifies problems in business areas and designs systems to correct those problems to everyone’s satisfaction.
Mary is an excellent facilitator – a confident public speaker who gets the participants to ask questions without being judgmental. While I was with the BC Archives and Records Service, I was Contract Manager for a project to amend and update the Information and Technology Section of the Government-wide Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS). Working with executives and key staff, Mary did an excellent job of quickly identifying our key requirements and recommending a comprehensive yet specific series of actions to address our major challenges. Tourism BC, as a young crown corporation, needed to put in place a records management system to meet Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy as well as Document Disposal Act requirements.
Mary readily took on the challenge; with her professional and pragmatic approach – always with integrity – met all milestone deadlines and successfully implemented the program within budget.
Records management, I have found, is often a misunderstood function and as such staff sometimes tend to place a low priority to it. Anyone having the good fortune of Mary providing her management consulting skills for a project within their organization will not be disappointed with the results.
I hired Mary Colak to provide myself and my staff with practical advice and techniques on how to manage what sometimes appeared to be overwhelming workload. At our meetings, Mary candidly addressed typical impediments to effective job performance including how cluttered or poorly managed physical space and time management can be a hindrance to job performance.

One of the key things that Mary helped me with was to “downsize” my office clutter and remove items that were not adding value to my job efficiency. Through Mary’s guidance and expertise, she not only changed our perceptions about overwhelm, but helped decrease it by providing information about its sources and how to deal with them. I highly recommend Mary to anyone looking to improve the efficiency and productivity of their workplace. I have had the pleasure of working on a volunteer basis with Mary over approximately the past six years.
Mary has also served at the national level, including as a member of the Board of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants and as a member of the National Certification Committee.
Mary’s contributions to the Institute and to the management consulting profession generally have been absolutely outstanding, including creating many new initiatives that have greatly raised our communication with members, our profile in the broader community, and continuing professional development opportunities for our members.
I have no hesitation in strongly recommending Mary in either a professional or personal capacity. As a long time employee with my organization, I had many years of experience at a manager level, but the changing work environment created a need for me to adapt to new best practices. Working with Mary, I felt that she primarily considered my professional interests and personality in her approach while enabling me to work smarter.
I highly recommend Mary Colak to anyone interested in improving their efficiency and productivity skills in both their workplace and personal lives.
It practices TQM, is certified to ISO 9001 and BS 7799:2-2002 standard and does continuous improvement of its operations thru customer satisfaction measurement, benchmarking, kaizen and reengineering.
Maintains an office in Cebu City for projects in the Visayas region as well as agents in Iligan City for Mindanao region.
The way to determine which area is performing poorly is to assess each organizational area and determine where outputs are weak. Let’s say it takes an average of five days to initiate and approve a request to purchase and install a computer in your organization.
The big picture approach is top-down and looks at the business vision and strategy, culture of the organization, core business competencies, and management systems. Include critical issues that may be impacting current levels of productivity and what needs to be addressed to improve productivity in each area. If productivity could be better, review the item and tweak the process or system as necessary to gain more productivity. However, remember to also follow sound change management principles and implement regular training of all staff. Mary’s consulting style is extremely professional and the work that she conducted met all of our expectations and more.
She helped put my psychology practice on a solid business footing, assisting with the setup of financial, scheduling and recordkeeping systems, and helping to grow the business through effective marketing. She quickly assessed our internal processes and gave us specific action steps to improve our efficiency and productivity. I was the Project Liaison for the project and Mary was the Project Manager for our Records Management project. She is extremely well organized, has superb project management skills, and her communication skills are without reproach. I particularly appreciated Mary’s ability to look for value-added opportunities and offer performance consulting suggestions. In addition, Mary’s tact and diplomacy in dealing with different personalities in a large corporate environment is a tremendous asset to the successful completion of a project of magnitude (like this one).
Mary was the Contractor for this project and I was very impressed with her analytical approach to records management and critical eye for business requirements. The entire project, from initial contracting through to final recommendations was within budget, timely, and of real value to the organization. Mary Colak was hired to design and implement a records and information management system (affectionately known as TRIMS) that is logical, organized, and functional, i.e.
However, a sound records management system is the foundation of an organization and is a significant contributing factor to its success. I wasn’t looking for a personal coach, but rather, someone who had the experience and knowledge of how to assist us in managing calendars, emails and office. She not only offered suggestions on how to work through elements that were impeding efficient and effective handling of workflow, but she also showed us how to get a handle on our work environment (both physical and electronic).
I also learned to separate items that belonged in my office from those that belonged at home. As a result of this project, my office continues to be much improved in increased available physical space and decreased electronic space.

I continue to use the tools and techniques that I learned from Mary both at work and at home.
With her pragmatic, pleasant and professional approach, she will enable you to save time while getting more done at work and reap the reward of more free personal time as a result. That includes four years together on the Council of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of BC and, for the past two years, as a former member of Council and a Fellow of the Institute while Mary was the Institute President.
This is on top of all the other things that she does in her professional and personal life.
In this regard, Mary Colak was hired to assist me with implementing best practices, including improving my organizational and time management skills. This included discussing and implementing an ideal physical office space layout that greatly enhanced the efficiency of workflow and created an atmosphere of calm.
Our time was well spent in planning for my professional future and improving my organizational and time management skills. Breaking this task down into its component parts, you may discover that by eliminating redundancies and the number of people involved in the task you could reduce this number to two days. Productivity improvement at the structural level is more difficult to determine since its inputs are more philosophical such as the organization’s vision and its culture. For example, if strategic projects are usually not completed on time or within budget, ask “why” several times until you drill down to the answer(s) as to why this is happening. Training is the key by which organizations create process improvements and since it’s the organization’s people that are responsible for productivity, including your people in the process will make the difference between productivity and profit or non-productivity and bankruptcy. Mary organized our project to ensure that the maximum amount of employee engagement occurred, and she ensured that communications were effective and promptly provided to all stakeholders. She got us to speed quickly and proactively managed the engagement to make sure all deliverables were met and on time.
Her personal qualities of honesty, loyalty and dependability make her the kind of person who will safeguard your best interests.
She was collaborative, respectful of our staff’s input, easy to work with and, at the same time, had the tactical ability to zero in on making changes that work in our unique non-profit environment. Not only did Mary complete the project on time and within budget, but she also provided more value than we anticipated. I would be happy to recommend Mary to any organization wishing to employ a highly professional manager.
In addition to updating the Administrative Records Classification System, Mary was also involved in writing records descriptions that incorporated information and privacy considerations when this concept was still in its infancy in BC.
Through Mary’s leadership, guidance, and expertise she gained the necessary ‘buy-in’ from all staff (line to management) and was able to change perceptions through awareness and increased the level of importance of this critical function.
In addition, Mary also showed me how to maximize use of electronic office tools such as MS Outlook to enable efficient prioritization of work and time management. Having Mary lead our records management project successfully generated buy-in throughout the organization.
I found her to be very knowledgeable in her field, and appreciated all the value adding ideas she provided during our project meetings. At the same time, she doesn’t shy away from offering a potentially unpopular opinion, if that is what’s needed. This included investigating and proposing possible EDRMS solutions, and being instrumental in helping us change our way of thinking about records management and how it will benefit our organization. Above all, I felt that Mary’s concern for JIBC went beyond just completing this project for us; she showed a genuine interest in helping us be successful. I would recommend her analytical expertise to anyone looking for efficient systems designs. I would highly recommend Mary’s professionalism, analytical skills and adaptability to anyone interested in business excellence. She also used an array of tools and techniques to gather information and better understand our organization. Mary is a hard worker and an excellent problem solver, and I have never known her to shy away from a challenge.
The final implementation plan we received is now being used as our roadmap for fully implementing the program in our office.

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