The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don’t pin productivity problems on workers, study says

By The Building Tradesman



How do you measure and improve construction worker productivity?

Anyone who has spent 20 minutes watching a construction site quickly grasps what people who have been in the business 20 years already know – it’s extremely difficult. Many different craft workers toiling in multiple areas of a site performing unique tasks on what’s likely a one-time project make for tough-to-measure productivity markers.

Tough, but maybe not impossible. In 2009 the Construction Industry Institute (CII) at the University of Texas at Austin began a five-to-six year research project aiming to “improve construction worker productivity in order to reduce costs, mitigate skilled labor shortages, and improve project schedule performance.” Some results are coming in, and they’re casting Hardhats’ work habits in a favorable light. On June 1, the Engineering News Record published a related article on the CII’s Craft Productivity Improvement Program titled, “Don’t blame the workers.”

“Equipped with stopwatches and PCs to crunch their data,” the ENR article said, “big owners, contractors and university researchers have turned to measuring and charting disruptions that can hit a jobsite daily. By drilling into the workday minute by minute, gauging output with new precision and zeroing in on ways to turn downtime into wrench time, researchers are cutting through the fog of confusion over what takes place on jobsites and, in the process, dispelling myths about lazy workers. Now, a major question is what to do with the rich harvest of activity data and how to exploit it consistently. A few measurement-minded companies are learning how.”

A few highlights from the article and other sources on the subject:

*Union work rules aren’t seen as a productivity problem. Unfortunately, much of the reason fingers aren’t being pointed at unions is the decline in union market share.

*Watching workers’ work habits can make them feel self-conscious, until they understand they’re partners in the process.  Productivity Enhancement Resources, a consultant to contractors, said “we assume that the vast majority of the craft workforce strives to be productive and true productivity improvement will result when project management removes the barriers to productivity. Once the barriers are removed, the workforce can and will work more efficiently.” PER President Chris Buck told the ENR: “Crafts guys want to be productive.”

*So why not ask workers what they need to be more productive? In fact, they have been surveyed, in a 2006 study by the same Construction Industry Institute of nearly 2,000 construction workers. “The findings,” said the American Society of Civil Engineers, “show that craft workers do have a good understanding of the factors affecting their daily productivity, and most of the adversarial factors affecting productivity can be addressed by site management teams. Factors involving tools and consumables, materials, engineering drawing management and construction equipment were identified as having the greatest impact on productivity from the craft workers’ perspective.”

*The ENR article mentioned a number of anecdotal ways contractors are seeking to improve productivity, and most seem to involve putting workers closer to tools and materials, while making the hardware easier to find and transport. Closer proximity to break areas and porta-johns also helps. One suggestion for the summertime involved moving work to cooler, shady areas of a site to increase productivity.

There are also worker frustrations about time wasting due to “unclear plans and specs, fixing prefabricated items and looking for tools,” the ENR article said.

*A 2009 paper by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that in all non-farm U.S. industries, productivity has increased by an average rate of 1.8 percent per year over the last 40 years. During that time in construction, however, labor productivity declined by 0.6 percent per year.

They cited prior research showing construction productivity declines as the result of the lack of research and development spending, fragmentation within the industry, and declining real wage rates.

The Construction Industry Institute incorporated an article by Rick Haller, president of Detroit-based Walbridge, who similarly didn’t point fingers at the workforce regarding increasing productivity. Instead, he said “front end planning” was the key to success, for example, in the completion last year of the University of Michigan’s new $152 million North Quad building.

The Construction Industry Institute’s research in productivity, Haller wrote, “are fundamental to our continuing success, especially the best practices in the areas of front-end planning, constructability reviews, materials management and zero accident techniques.”

When its study is completed, the CII has an ambitious goal to “identify and validate through field trials or other validation methodologies, initiatives, techniques, or methods that, if implemented would result in a craft productivity improvement of 50 percent.”

In 2009, the Construction Industry Institute, based at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin,

The objective of this research program is to identify and validate through field trials or other validation methodologies, initiatives, techniques, or methods that, if implemented would result in a craft productivity improvement of 50 percent. This research will require a comprehensive research program of five to six years rather than be the focus of a single research project. CII’s Research Committee will review the program at a minimum annually to ensure quality and satisfactory progress and to approve the selection of the next project to be undertaken in the program.

This research aims to improve construction worker productivity in order to reduce costs, mitigate skilled labor shortages, and improve project schedule performance. Improving the percent of time spent on direct work will be the initial strategy. To do this, specific objectives must be achieved.

Specific Objectives of the Research

  • analyze CII BM&M productivity and other data annually with a focus on year selected trades.
  • conduct annual innovation workshops, each focused on a specific CII BM&M trade, in order to identify innovations with breakthrough potential.
  • conduct an annual set of field trials focused on the most promising innovation identified in the immediately preceding workshop.
  • starting in 2009, report out annually at the CII conference and deliver at least one useful research product annually.
  • synthesize the best work on change management and the effective implementation of innovations in construction.
  • deliver a comprehensive productivity improvement guide at the end of the research program that would synthesize what had been learned over the course of the program.

June 1

Craig DeFinis enjoys watching a craftsperson lose 15 minutes of work time about as much as he likes discovering that he just left his wallet in the back seat of a taxi. As the owner of Pittsburgh plumbing and HVAC contractor DeFinis Mechanical Contractors, he grants his union plumbers a quarter-hour morning break, even though his contract doesn’t require it, and hopes the workers don’t stretch it the way the half-hour lunch break sometimes goes to 45 minutes. Because each worker costs about $60 an hour in wages and benefits, extra minutes add up over the long run. “Multiply that by eight guys, five days a week, for six months—that’s a lot of money,” he says.

DeFinis does more than gripe about breaks. He holds meetings with foremen every week to ensure timely delivery of tools, materials and information to his crews. Further, he stays alert to errors in the plans his crews work from. “Some engineers are better than others,” he says.

Overall, DeFinis reflects both the old and new ways of thinking about wasted work time. From the 1960s through the 1990s, owners, contractors and academics noted with frustration and alarm a steady lag in productivity within the construction industry, especially in periods of inflation. While technology had driven increased non-farm productivity ahead by 200% from 1964 to 2003, one controversial study showed, construction in the same period actually slipped by nearly 20%. Years ago, fingers may have pointed to union work rules and contract terms as factors, but a decline in trade-union market share in the last 30 years has changed that argument.

With a few exceptions, new research on productivity is giving managers the tools to maximize “wrench time.” Equipped with stopwatches and PCs to crunch their data, big owners, contractors and university researchers have turned to measuring and charting disruptions that can hit a jobsite daily. By drilling into the workday minute by minute, gauging output with new precision and zeroing in on ways to turn downtime into wrench time, researchers are cutting through the fog of confusion over what takes place on jobsites and, in the process, dispelling myths about lazy workers. Now, a major question is what to do with the rich harvest of activity data and how to exploit it consistently. A few measurement-minded companies are learning how.

In 2009, the Construction Industry Institute, based at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, launched the most ambitious study of craft productivity in its 28-year history. The five-year Craft Productivity Improvement Program aims to compile a comprehensive collection of innovative analysis techniques, common metrics and best practices for craft productivity.

The new research team, called RT 252, determined that project teams lacked a sufficient understanding of the issues that keep crafts workers off their tools.

Workers already had been polled on the subject. As part of a 2006 CII survey, 1,996 craftspersons listed what kept them waiting around: no forklift to move the Sheetrock, no reply from the engineer about unclear plans and specs, fixing prefabricated items and looking for tools, among other responses.

Productivity engineers argue that most contractors fail to investigate fully how these types of shortages and idle time disrupt production.

“Crafts guys want to be productive,” says Chris Buck, president of Productivity Enhancement Resources (PER) in Simpson, N.C. “You’re going to have your exception here and there, but the vast majority want to be productive. If we can take away the barriers for them to produce, they will take the reins and go.”

Buck is among a small group of productivity professionals engaged in the emerging technique of “activity analysis.” When it is hired by an employer or owner, Buck’s firm is sent to a site to make thousands of detailed observations about how crafts workers spend their time. While parsing the data and comparing it with historical norms, Buck looks for unusual spikes in non-direct work. He then goes back and interviews workers to find out why so much time is spent off-task. Once issues are identified, PER develops strategies to optimize the time of crafts workers.

The on-site observations produce mountains of data. Between March 2009 and February 2010, PER made 74,000 observations open-shop crafts labor on a Gulf Coast refinery project. The study led to an implementation plan that reduced total travel time for employees of an EPCM firm by 16% and cut operator idle time by 49% by taking downtime and using it for inspections of rigging equipment, cleaning of cranes and other machinery, and planning for lift coordination during the shift, says Beck.

PER then analyzed personal delays by the hour, showing a spike in the second half of the shift when temperatures were higher, he adds. So Beck advised supervisors to plan and schedule activities in the shade provided by existing structures, moving from one side of the project to another during the day.

The concept of observing direct and non-direct work rates isn’t new, but activity analysis represents an evolutionary step in productivity science. In the 1920s, Leonard Henry Caleb Tippett developed the “snap reading” method, which calculates the ratio between production and delay based on observations of work activity. Over time, some contractors began to gravitate toward the work-sample method, which splits a worker’s time into direct work, support work and delay.

Categories of Work

Through activity analysis, productivity engineers take sampling several steps further, breaking work into multiple layers that allow for more focused study. In July, CII’s RT 252 team released a comprehensive “Guide to Activity Analysis.” The guide suggests seven prime categories of work: direct work, preparatory work, materials handling, waiting, travel, personal, and tools and equipment (see above). Each category can be broken into subcategories to add detail.

To date, activity analysis has developed largely in silos in which companies have developed definition sets to meet their specific needs. Faithful + Gould, Seal Beach, Calif., established its own work-sample methodology, dubbed Time on Tools, in 2003. Dan Leng, vice president at the cost-management consultancy, says the system breaks non-direct work into nine main categories as well as smaller subcategories.

Although activity analysis appears laborious, Leng maintains that it is necessary in order to root out specific problems. Processing of permits, for example, can be broken down into many separate activities. “We break it down into type of permit, time waiting for someone to sign a permit, the signing process and so on. Eventually, you discover that a key person on the permitting process is constantly running 30 minutes late to sign a permit, for example.”

The payoff for micro-level information can be significant. Leng says his system saved $1.7 million by cutting logistics delays in half on a major turnaround job at a refinery, saved $835,000 by reducing breaks to 30 minutes from 55 minutes, and saved $330,000 by reducing by 10 minutes the owner “pep talk” during all-hands meetings.

“To me, it’s the most basic thing,” Leng adds. “If you have a project with 30% direct work, why would you spend time and money improving that direct work when you can try to fix the 70% [not spent on task]?”

Identifying issues is only the first step, notes Steve Toon, productivity engineer at Bechtel. Toon says activity analysis needs to be an ongoing process of assessing problems and applying solutions.

“The thing that is not addressed with traditional work sampling is what to do with the data,” he says. “We need to identify solutions, implement those solutions and follow up with another study to either validate that those solutions addressed the issue and increased productive time or [find ways to improve].”

In a typical two-day period on a Bechtel site, Toon says, he might collect 2,000 observations to serve as indicators of possible problems. He then surveys workers and foremen in the field to identify common restraints that cause delays. Armed with that data, he crafts solutions and presents them to the site manager and the project superintendent.

“You’d be surprised how many times we sit down and I’ve seen [managers] have an epiphany,” he says. “Often, I come in with a set of data that validates everything they thought, but now they have the data.”

Not everyone likes being watched. Mark Stofega, principal construction support engineer at Fluor, says workers think he is “checking up on them,” when, in fact, he usually seeks management-based problems.

“When you explain the process, there are very few things you can blame on the [crafts workers] other than late starts or early breaks,” he says. “What you find are management issues—the materials aren’t there, designs aren’t there, equipment is not there. All of a sudden, the [crafts workers] see what you’re doing, and they open up.”

Just as researchers hope to get better at identifying productivity issues, work is under way to develop a framework for applying effective solutions. As part of the first phase of CII’s project, the RT 252 research team is investigating the relationship between craftsperson productivity and best practices. For example, CII maintains a benchmarking and metrics database that is used to identify possible best practices.

In the first of the project’s five phases, the team focused on the mechanical trades. It reported a significant relationship between improved productivity and best practices in materials management, safety, team building, front-end planning, and automation and integration. Research showed that projects that were “advanced implementers” of these practices experienced as much as a 50% average productivity advantage over “weak implementer” projects.

The team’s analysis of electrical crafts produced similar results, indicating that the more productive projects are associated with a high level of safety-program implementation, automation and integration of information systems, materials management systems, team building and constructibility.

The practices are proven, and CII acknowledges that many have been known for years, such as short interval planning and work packaging. Still, the team says those solutions are rarely “implemented completely or consistently from project to project.”

Index of Best Practices

Instead of supplying a laundry list of practices, the team is developing an index of best practices with weighted scores based on the relative influence of each on improving productivity. Dubbed the Best Productivity Practice Implementation Index, the system is designed to help determine which practices or combinations of practices might help drive productivity.

General contractors may find there are limits to productivity gains for contractors, owners and others that use subcontractors. The common approach among productivity experts is for each party to focus on its own part of the equation.

Rather than using activity analysis to identify issues for managers, Chris Heger, a Turner Construction project superintendent, tries to remove barriers for subcontractors. Some strategies are basic, such as keeping materials on wheels for easy transport.

Other strategies require extra effort. At a lab project site at which portable toilets weren’t allowed in clean spaces, a portable toilet was placed on three-story staging outside the facility to reduce travel time. “Those are the types of things we can do to help [crafts workers] spend more time on task,” he says.

A steel erector working at Manhattan’s One World Trade Center is taking a similar approach. DCM Erectors, New York City, has arranged for a Subway sandwich shop to operate from a platform that is jacked to rise with the skyscraper’s steel frame, thus helping the ironworkers avoid a trip of as much as 30 minutes down to the street to find lunch.

Heger’s primary tool is tracking performance through the development of detailed work “breakdown structures” for subcontractors. The team focuses on the most predictable aspects of the job and breaks tasks into short intervals to help stay on top of issues. If performance begins to slip, the team can quickly investigate and work toward solutions.

Although it is a team approach, Heger says crafts workers can be left to themselves to improve their productivity. “Crafts workers know how to do their jobs better than anyone. I try to set them up for success rather than try to avoid failure.”

Just as with safety, top-down pressure, rather than bottom-up initiatives, may be needed to force change, says Paul Goodrum, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky and a member of RT 252. “In the end, it will take some leadership from government agencies to push this forward,” he says. “We’ll begin to see good breakthroughs on productivity once we get some reliable measures on it. I don’t think [the challenge] is as difficult as people think.”

  • analyze CII BM&M productivity and other data annually with a focus on year selected trades.
  • conduct annual innovation workshops, each focused on a specific CII BM&M trade, in order to identify innovations with breakthrough potential.
  • conduct an annual set of field trials focused on the most promising innovation identified in the immediately preceding workshop.
  • starting in 2009, report out annually at the CII conference and deliver at least one useful research product annually.
  • synthesize the best work on change management and the effective implementation of innovations in construction.
  • deliver a comprehensive productivity improvement guide at the end of the research program that would synthesize what had been learned over the course of the program.
June 1 Craig DeFinis enjoys watching a craftsperson lose 15 minutes of work time about as much as he likes discovering that he just left his wallet in the back seat of a taxi. As the owner of Pittsburgh plumbing and HVAC contractor DeFinis Mechanical Contractors, he grants his union plumbers a quarter-hour morning break, even though his contract doesn’t require it, and hopes the workers don’t stretch it the way the half-hour lunch break sometimes goes to 45 minutes. Because each worker costs about $60 an hour in wages and benefits, extra minutes add up over the long run. “Multiply that by eight guys, five days a week, for six months—that’s a lot of money,” he says. DeFinis does more than gripe about breaks. He holds meetings with foremen every week to ensure timely delivery of tools, materials and information to his crews. Further, he stays alert to errors in the plans his crews work from. “Some engineers are better than others,” he says. Overall, DeFinis reflects both the old and new ways of thinking about wasted work time. From the 1960s through the 1990s, owners, contractors and academics noted with frustration and alarm a steady lag in productivity within the construction industry, especially in periods of inflation. While technology had driven increased non-farm productivity ahead by 200% from 1964 to 2003, one controversial study showed, construction in the same period actually slipped by nearly 20%. Years ago, fingers may have pointed to union work rules and contract terms as factors, but a decline in trade-union market share in the last 30 years has changed that argument. With a few exceptions, new research on productivity is giving managers the tools to maximize “wrench time.” Equipped with stopwatches and PCs to crunch their data, big owners, contractors and university researchers have turned to measuring and charting disruptions that can hit a jobsite daily. By drilling into the workday minute by minute, gauging output with new precision and zeroing in on ways to turn downtime into wrench time, researchers are cutting through the fog of confusion over what takes place on jobsites and, in the process, dispelling myths about lazy workers. Now, a major question is what to do with the rich harvest of activity data and how to exploit it consistently. A few measurement-minded companies are learning how. In 2009, the Construction Industry Institute, based at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, launched the most ambitious study of craft productivity in its 28-year history. The five-year Craft Productivity Improvement Program aims to compile a comprehensive collection of innovative analysis techniques, common metrics and best practices for craft productivity. The new research team, called RT 252, determined that project teams lacked a sufficient understanding of the issues that keep crafts workers off their tools. Workers already had been polled on the subject. As part of a 2006 CII survey, 1,996 craftspersons listed what kept them waiting around: no forklift to move the Sheetrock, no reply from the engineer about unclear plans and specs, fixing prefabricated items and looking for tools, among other responses. Productivity engineers argue that most contractors fail to investigate fully how these types of shortages and idle time disrupt production. “Crafts guys want to be productive,” says Chris Buck, president of Productivity Enhancement Resources (PER) in Simpson, N.C. “You’re going to have your exception here and there, but the vast majority want to be productive. If we can take away the barriers for them to produce, they will take the reins and go.” Buck is among a small group of productivity professionals engaged in the emerging technique of “activity analysis.” When it is hired by an employer or owner, Buck’s firm is sent to a site to make thousands of detailed observations about how crafts workers spend their time. While parsing the data and comparing it with historical norms, Buck looks for unusual spikes in non-direct work. He then goes back and interviews workers to find out why so much time is spent off-task. Once issues are identified, PER develops strategies to optimize the time of crafts workers. The on-site observations produce mountains of data. Between March 2009 and February 2010, PER made 74,000 observations open-shop crafts labor on a Gulf Coast refinery project. The study led to an implementation plan that reduced total travel time for employees of an EPCM firm by 16% and cut operator idle time by 49% by taking downtime and using it for inspections of rigging equipment, cleaning of cranes and other machinery, and planning for lift coordination during the shift, says Beck. PER then analyzed personal delays by the hour, showing a spike in the second half of the shift when temperatures were higher, he adds. So Beck advised supervisors to plan and schedule activities in the shade provided by existing structures, moving from one side of the project to another during the day. The concept of observing direct and non-direct work rates isn’t new, but activity analysis represents an evolutionary step in productivity science. In the 1920s, Leonard Henry Caleb Tippett developed the “snap reading” method, which calculates the ratio between production and delay based on observations of work activity. Over time, some contractors began to gravitate toward the work-sample method, which splits a worker’s time into direct work, support work and delay. Categories of Work Through activity analysis, productivity engineers take sampling several steps further, breaking work into multiple layers that allow for more focused study. In July, CII’s RT 252 team released a comprehensive “Guide to Activity Analysis.” The guide suggests seven prime categories of work: direct work, preparatory work, materials handling, waiting, travel, personal, and tools and equipment (see above). Each category can be broken into subcategories to add detail. To date, activity analysis has developed largely in silos in which companies have developed definition sets to meet their specific needs. Faithful + Gould, Seal Beach, Calif., established its own work-sample methodology, dubbed Time on Tools, in 2003. Dan Leng, vice president at the cost-management consultancy, says the system breaks non-direct work into nine main categories as well as smaller subcategories. Although activity analysis appears laborious, Leng maintains that it is necessary in order to root out specific problems. Processing of permits, for example, can be broken down into many separate activities. “We break it down into type of permit, time waiting for someone to sign a permit, the signing process and so on. Eventually, you discover that a key person on the permitting process is constantly running 30 minutes late to sign a permit, for example.” The payoff for micro-level information can be significant. Leng says his system saved $1.7 million by cutting logistics delays in half on a major turnaround job at a refinery, saved $835,000 by reducing breaks to 30 minutes from 55 minutes, and saved $330,000 by reducing by 10 minutes the owner “pep talk” during all-hands meetings. “To me, it’s the most basic thing,” Leng adds. “If you have a project with 30% direct work, why would you spend time and money improving that direct work when you can try to fix the 70% [not spent on task]?” Identifying issues is only the first step, notes Steve Toon, productivity engineer at Bechtel. Toon says activity analysis needs to be an ongoing process of assessing problems and applying solutions. “The thing that is not addressed with traditional work sampling is what to do with the data,” he says. “We need to identify solutions, implement those solutions and follow up with another study to either validate that those solutions addressed the issue and increased productive time or [find ways to improve].” In a typical two-day period on a Bechtel site, Toon says, he might collect 2,000 observations to serve as indicators of possible problems. He then surveys workers and foremen in the field to identify common restraints that cause delays. Armed with that data, he crafts solutions and presents them to the site manager and the project superintendent. “You’d be surprised how many times we sit down and I’ve seen [managers] have an epiphany,” he says. “Often, I come in with a set of data that validates everything they thought, but now they have the data.” Not everyone likes being watched. Mark Stofega, principal construction support engineer at Fluor, says workers think he is “checking up on them,” when, in fact, he usually seeks management-based problems. “When you explain the process, there are very few things you can blame on the [crafts workers] other than late starts or early breaks,” he says. “What you find are management issues—the materials aren’t there, designs aren’t there, equipment is not there. All of a sudden, the [crafts workers] see what you’re doing, and they open up.” Just as researchers hope to get better at identifying productivity issues, work is under way to develop a framework for applying effective solutions. As part of the first phase of CII’s project, the RT 252 research team is investigating the relationship between craftsperson productivity and best practices. For example, CII maintains a benchmarking and metrics database that is used to identify possible best practices. In the first of the project’s five phases, the team focused on the mechanical trades. It reported a significant relationship between improved productivity and best practices in materials management, safety, team building, front-end planning, and automation and integration. Research showed that projects that were “advanced implementers” of these practices experienced as much as a 50% average productivity advantage over “weak implementer” projects. The team’s analysis of electrical crafts produced similar results, indicating that the more productive projects are associated with a high level of safety-program implementation, automation and integration of information systems, materials management systems, team building and constructibility. The practices are proven, and CII acknowledges that many have been known for years, such as short interval planning and work packaging. Still, the team says those solutions are rarely “implemented completely or consistently from project to project.” Index of Best Practices Instead of supplying a laundry list of practices, the team is developing an index of best practices with weighted scores based on the relative influence of each on improving productivity. Dubbed the Best Productivity Practice Implementation Index, the system is designed to help determine which practices or combinations of practices might help drive productivity. General contractors may find there are limits to productivity gains for contractors, owners and others that use subcontractors. The common approach among productivity experts is for each party to focus on its own part of the equation. Rather than using activity analysis to identify issues for managers, Chris Heger, a Turner Construction project superintendent, tries to remove barriers for subcontractors. Some strategies are basic, such as keeping materials on wheels for easy transport. Other strategies require extra effort. At a lab project site at which portable toilets weren’t allowed in clean spaces, a portable toilet was placed on three-story staging outside the facility to reduce travel time. “Those are the types of things we can do to help [crafts workers] spend more time on task,” he says. A steel erector working at Manhattan’s One World Trade Center is taking a similar approach. DCM Erectors, New York City, has arranged for a Subway sandwich shop to operate from a platform that is jacked to rise with the skyscraper’s steel frame, thus helping the ironworkers avoid a trip of as much as 30 minutes down to the street to find lunch. Heger’s primary tool is tracking performance through the development of detailed work “breakdown structures” for subcontractors. The team focuses on the most predictable aspects of the job and breaks tasks into short intervals to help stay on top of issues. If performance begins to slip, the team can quickly investigate and work toward solutions. Although it is a team approach, Heger says crafts workers can be left to themselves to improve their productivity. “Crafts workers know how to do their jobs better than anyone. I try to set them up for success rather than try to avoid failure.” Just as with safety, top-down pressure, rather than bottom-up initiatives, may be needed to force change, says Paul Goodrum, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky and a member of RT 252. “In the end, it will take some leadership from government agencies to push this forward,” he says. “We’ll begin to see good breakthroughs on productivity once we get some reliable measures on it. I don’t think [the challenge] is as difficult as people think.”