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I don’t think this is limited to the factory but applies everywhere. My mind immediately jumps to that white collar manager that makes sure to sit in a central place to see the comings and goings of all her workers mistaking sitting in a place with doing great work. Time spent keeping up appearances doesn’t show up in the bottom line.

What’s more, in a curious phenomenon dubbed the Transparency Paradox, he finds that watching your employees less closely at work might yield more transparency at your organization.

Bernstein uncovered the paradox while studying the manufacturing floor at a leading, technologically advanced global contract manufacturer’s plant in Southern China, where tens of thousands of workers assembled mobile devices under close supervision. The plant for years had operated myriad identical assembly lines, spaced closely together to facilitate visibility. The idea was that watching the workers would help managers improve operations and replicate innovations on one line across others, thus increasing productivity and driving down production costs.

A research team found the opposite was true.

I would never suggest that what works in one setting is necessarily going to work the same way in another,” he says. “The message actually that’s more important to me, which should be more important to managers, too, is that this race to full observability of everything can have unintended consequences.”

via HBS “Hiding From Managers Can Increase Your Productivity”
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