• Kustaa Kivelä

Productivity hacker: The hottest job of the 21st century

A Productivity hacker. Sounds cool, but it’s a role that does not exist in any company yet.


If you're a millennial freelancer or entrepreneur, you have probably automated a large number of your daily tasks with Zapier, Microsoft Flow, or Workato, just to name a few. We’ve bet that in the coming years leading companies will have their productivity hacking teams in place. Those teams will review knowledge work data and analytics to introduce productivity hacks for other employees so that their workflows are smooth and as automated as possible. One of our bets was that part of these teams will be born from current RPA CoEs: https://www.workfellow.ai/post/what-is-the-future-role-of-an-rpa-coe


Data scientist: The sexiest job of the 21st Century

Harvard Business Review stated (1) that the Data scientist role is the sexiest job of the 21st century and we agree. That article was published in 2012. Today, almost every medium and large-sized company have their own data scientist or data science teams - complemented with data science-focused consulting houses. They described a Data Scientist as being a new breed in a company: “It’s a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data”.


Hey but what could be more interesting than playing with data and finding unique insights or solutions that generate competitive advantage or even turn the direction of the whole company?


How is this related to Workfellow? At Workfellow, we create big data from knowledge work activities and create insights about problems which are causing productivity losses.

A growth hacker is a new breed within startups


A growth hacker is also a sexy job title. If you research leading startups, all of them have a growth hacker(s) working on their growth bottlenecks. It's a relatively new job role in growth companies (at least in here) as you can find out if trying to look at the growth hacker definition (2):


“A growth hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and retain customers. Growth hackers tend to be obsessive, curious’, and analytical:

  • Growth hackers focus solely on strategies related to growing the business

  • They hypothesize, prioritize and test innovative growth strategies

  • They analyze and test to see what’s working

The ideal growth hacker knows how to set growth priorities, identify channels for customer acquisition, measure success, and scale growth.”


Essential to growth hacking is that you get real and live data about everything essential to test your hypothesis fast.

A hypothesis might be just a small twist in the marketing message, the buyer's persona, audience, or something bigger. It's all about building and testing those hypotheses, validating and solving issues that are preventing a company from growing as much as it can. It’s about finding your growth engine and path to growth backed with data. And, then scaling as fast as you can when the numbers support it.


Productivity hacks


Normally, productivity hacks are self-initiated and people adapt to those in their daily life or work by:

  • Optimizing to-do-lists

  • Completing tasks in batches

  • Creating scripts to perform data collection from websites

  • Automating filing from email to cloud storage

  • Creating new custom rules or settings within applications

  • Optimizing workday by the workload of activities, e.g. have a look on Henri’s post

“Either you run the day or the day runs you”

- Jim Rohn

We are firm believers that everyone is responsible for their run. Also, we believe that there is a lot that companies can do to support their people and teams to flourish. For example: providing the best solutions, technologies, and tips & tricks to improve work environment and workflows by using data-driven decisions and low-cost approaches.


So who is a Productivity hacker?

I think that many companies already have roles that have productivity hacker qualities. Following the previous data scientist and growth hacker definition frameworks we would say that a productivity hacker is:

Definition of a Productivity hacker:

A professional with curiosity to make discoveries in the world of knowledge work data.

A productivity hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost approaches, technologies, and solutions to fill productivity holes - in a fast and agile manner - not waiting years for perfect solutions.


Productivity hackers tend to be obsessive, curious, and analytical:

  • Productivity hackers focus solely on strategies related to productivity

  • They find, hypothesize, prioritize and test innovative strategies to get rid of manual friction

  • They analyze and test to see what’s working

Companies have their development models in place for a long-term development but productivity hackers' job is to fill the holes today, not tomorrow. It’s about speed and scalability of solutions to the problems to be solved.


What kind of problems productivity hackers then solve which prevents modern teams to thrive, for example:


Waiting for others

  • Waiting for a file to appear into a folder to initiate the next task

  • File uploading or downloading based on timing/event

  • Filing files for archiving based on an event

  • ...

Friction between systems

  • Data manipulation between teams/steps/systems

  • Merging documents

  • Rule-based reporting

  • Extracting data from documents continuously

  • ...

Bottlenecks

  • Transferring data between systems

  • Reporting tasks without the need for insights

  • Finding information sources repetitively

Whatever problem is found from data, that is preventing companies and teams from thriving is an interest of productivity hackers.

Especially when the problem is shared with many others and is solvable today, not tomorrow.

10-minute activity daily x done by 50 employees similarly = 60 hours per day for more value-adding work.


So the question at the end is that should you have a productivity hacker in your company?




References:

(1) https://hbr.org/2012/10/data-scientist-the-sexiest-job-of-the-21st-century

(2) https://optinmonster.com/glossary/growth-hacking/


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