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Productivity not budging? Try connecting the silos:

Miners have to increase productivity and profits while grades decline and mines deepen. At the same time, social norms put pressure on attracting and retaining more diverse personnel and creating rewarding careers for all.

 

A common approach to improving productivity is to use the budget and departmental KPIs to drive improved performance. In this, we are supported by ever more abundant computerised information which guides departments in maximising their utilisation. 

 

However, this approach can lead to employees taking an interest solely in their KPIs, often at the expense of the broader organisation's performance. As a result, trust and cooperation between departments decrease, systemic problems are overlooked, and overall performance declines. Managers pushing KPIs harder in response only exacerbate the issue, reducing employee engagement and psychological safety and intensifying the negative spiral.

 

Apart from the detrimental impact on production and profit, this is not good for creating rewarding careers or attracting personnel. 

 

What can we do about this? It is helpful to consider the mental models that equate high utilisation in all areas with high productivity. The Theory of Constraints explains why this model does not work and suggests that the best results are achieved when we have high utilisation at the bottleneck. The remaining departments should not be pushed for maximum utilisation; they need protective capacity (insurance) to ensure the bottleneck can run at the maximum rate. 

 

By changing what we expect from our departments and being able to clarify the cause-effect relationship between department and bottleneck performance, we are able to reward those who cooperate and help integration. This way, it becomes apparent how the parts should function for system-wide success and middle management and frontline help with connecting siloes. 

 

When employees can see what they need to do, the impact and importance of what they do, when the rest of the organisation can also see work becomes rewarding and employee engagement jumps. 



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