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Productivity And Human Performance: Completing The Continuous Improvement Spiral

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Program Delivery Methods and Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1020.1 - 10.1020.8



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Paper Authors

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Steve Duncan

author page

William Swart

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Productivity and Human Performance -Completing the Continuous Improvement Spiral- William Swart and Steve Duncan East Carolina University Greenville, NC 27858


Sustained success in business requires continuous improvement in productivity. The development of productivity enhancement concepts is an ongoing activity that most often falls under the responsibility of units such as industrial engineering, operations research, quality assurance, or engineering services. Once developed, these concepts are typically turned over to a training unit who will develop the training program(s) intended to provide the workforce with the knowledge to implement the productivity concept. When implementation fails to deliver the anticipated benefits, trainers tend to blame concept developers for trying to apply theories that do not work in the real world while concept developers tend to blame trainers for discarding or relaxing essential components of the concept for the sake of expediency. What both camps tend to ignore, and is addressed in this paper, is that workers who have received appropriate training for implementing a new productivity concept may simply choose not to perform in the workplace as trained. The thesis of this paper is that a new productivity improvement will not deliver actual and sustainable benefits unless workforce performance is achieved. The contribution of this paper are: 1) To suggest that “design for performance” be included as an additional dimension in the concurrent engineering and design of productivity improvement concepts; and, 2) That training programs designed to allow the workforce to attain performance be followed up by reactive and proactive management practices to sustain the required level of workforce performance.


Businesses survive based on their continuous approaches to conducting business in better ways. The phrase of working smarter versus harder is often heard and is the genesis for the flow of ideas that form the basis for continuous improvement. Business activity results from the creation of goods and services. Activities that are involved in taking inputs and creating outputs defined as goods and services are referred to as operations. Coordinating the set activities that comprise the operations is referred to as operations management, and the objective of operations management is to deliver the goods and services in a way that maximizes the value of the outputs in relation to inputs. The ratio of the outputs to the inputs is referred to as productivity.

If the operations management function is successful, businesses remain profitable. Businesses compete against each other for market share via a number of strategies. These can include differentiation, cost, and customer service. A company choosing to compete

Duncan, S., & Swart, W. (2005, June), Productivity And Human Performance: Completing The Continuous Improvement Spiral Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14912

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