Organization follows technology? Lo13366 LO13402

Rol Fessenden (76234.3636@CompuServe.COM)
25 Apr 97 23:20:43 EDT

Sb: Organization follows Technology ? LO13366

Ben and others have cited Thurow, Roach, and possibly others I have missed
in saying there has been little or no gain in white collar productivity
from technology.

Many others have described how difficult it is to even measure white
collar productivity. Let me cite one example that I think throws into
question how one even measures it, and how can we be sure there have been
no gains.

In my industry (apparel and sporting goods retail), there has been massive
investment in technology in the management of inventory, and there is over
15 years no gain in inventory turnover, a standard measure of
productivity. On the surface that would appear to support Ben's claim.

When you dig in, though, you find an equally massive increase in
complexity which has apparently also not resulted in a _decrease_ in
productivity. One can only conclude that complexity-driven decreases in
productivity has offset technology-driven increases in productivity.

As examples, during the time when technology was increasing (1960 - now),
retail floor space increased in the US by 5 times per customer (4 square
feet per person to 20). Stock-keeping units -- the number of unique
different items carried -- in the US has doubled or quadrupled. The
supply chain has changed from a mostly (90%+) domestic to mostly (75% +/-)
global. Cultural differences which were previously negligible (Southern
US to northern in worst case) are now huge. Baseline leadtimes -- ie 'all
other things being unchanged' -- have increased 2-5 weeks.

So, has there been really no gain in productivity? On the contrary, it is
a small miracle that productivity has been stable in the face of this

 Rol Fessenden

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