So, what is productivity, and why should you even care about it?
I give a practical illustration in the next section; however, if you want a general dictionary definition of this noun, then productivity is: “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services;” or for the purpose of economics: “the rate at which goods and services that have exchange value, are brought forth or produced.”
For an objective, scientific measure or assessment (as employed in economics), productivity can be expressed as the ratio between the output volume and volume of inputs used in the production process, i.e. output per unit of input. Thus, it is an average measure of the efficiency of production; i.e. a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, department, sector, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs.
Illustrations from Scriptures
In Matthew 25:14-30, a story is told of a master who gave talents (or resources) to three of his servants; to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; and Bible says: “to each according to his own ability.” Verses 16-19 record that: “he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.” Eventually, he returned the 1 talent back to the master.
You will notice that, at the point of rendering accounts, the first two were given equal remarks: Verses 21 and 23: “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” The same remark was given to the one who was given five talents, and the one who was given two; because their productivity were equal: they each doubled their initial inputs; so a ratio of 2:1 (or simply ‘2’) for each of them; same measure of productivity.
In a similar story in Luke 19:12-27, the master had 10 servants, and he gave each of them equal amount of resources: one mina each. But in this account, the first one earned 10 minas, by doing business with the initial 1 mina; the second earned 5 minas, by doing business with the initial 1 mina. Here, their productivity / productiveness were not the same; the first one was twice as productive as the second one, so when it came to getting their rewards, the first one was given more; twice as much. Indeed the first one (who had earned ten minas) was given charge of 10 cities, and the second one (who had earned five) was given charge of 5 cities. Fair deal! Remember each one was given just 1 mina to start with. As for those who did not do business with (or invest) their resources, let’s not even talk about them.
What The Issue Really Is
Africa is very rich in natural resources, and almost all the people are very religious and have been praying fervently and consistently; besides the Universities, Polytechnics, Training Colleges, and Technical Schools produce numerous intellectuals – Professors, Doctorate Holders, Masters Holders, Diploma Holders, and a whole lot of people with serious academic credentials; some from very reputable universities across the globe. And yet a lot of the countries, including Ghana, are bedeviled with age old developmental problems such as indiscriminate littering, ignorance, illiteracy, diseases, unemployment, stack poverty and general underdevelopment. The question is: WHY IS THIS SO? And most importantly, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION/REMEDY?
This is the case primarily because of the prevalence of grossly low productivity among the populace; majority of the people have accepted to be less than they were born to be, and are thus accomplishing far less than their true capabilities. You may click here to see more.
I like to quote Paul Krugman; he says: “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.” This is so true for a country as much as for you as an individual.
Let me emphasise that, especially here on earth, Life (or God) will reward you according to your productivity! And this applies to even countries, as much as to individuals. So for instance our gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of how productive all of us have been as a people; it is a measure of our collective productivity.
In the next episode (You may click here for Part II of this presentation) I will be sharing some revealing statistics to better help you to appreciate how deep-seated the problem is, and then move on to share some remedial principles for helping ourselves out.
PS: Why / How I Got Into This #Productivity ‘Obsession’
What the reality is in Africa (as captured in ‘What The Issue Really Is‘ section above) has been a deep bother to me over the years. Somehow, I felt that a good test of my intelligence, and my most unique intellectual and practical contribution to knowledge, and especially towards the development of humanity, notably Ghana (and Africa) would be to find the solution / remedy / answer to the issue raised above; so I did! You may click here to see more.