Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Increasing Productivity - Do The Important Things, The Bethlehem Steel Story

There is a story. It goes like this.
A young management consultant meets the President of Bethlehem Steels and offers him his services. The President says that they have enough 'knowing'. What they need is 'doing'. If the management consultant can give him something that makes them 'do', he will willingly pay.
The young management consultant had 20 minutes. He said he'd give him something that will improve productivity by 50%.

  • He told the President to take a piece of paper. 
  • Then he asked him to write the six most important tasks (some versions say five, but consistently most says six) to be performed tomorrow.
  • Then number the tasks in terms of importance.
  • Put the paper back in pocket.
  • Take it out first thing in the morning.
  • Look at number one and start on it.
  • Do number one until it is completed and then take up number two.
  • Every fifteen minutes keep checking the list to see if you're on track.
  • By end of day if you have only completed 2 or 3, its still ok. You did the most important things.
  • In the last five minutes of your day, make a list for the next day.

Story goes that the President was impressed with the results that he paid the young management consultant USD 25,000. This was some old time number and it was adjusted to some 400000 USD. The President, one Mr. Schwab turned the company around and it became the second biggest producer of steel in the world. Mr. Schwab himself made a personal fortune of over USD 100 million. So the story goes.

The key then, seems to be to do the few important and right things and not many unimportant things. Simple as that. Try it.

Some links to the story.


Rajendra said...

makes sense.

Harimohan said...

Raja, I have been doing this for a few days now and I can see a difference already in things getting things done. Nice change.