A MIT research team is trying to figure out how CEOs can better manage information workers.
There's a Dilbertian irony in forming a committee to study productivity, but that's basically what the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is doing. MIT's Sloan School of Management is supporting a three-year, multimillion-dollar initiative called the Information Work Productivity Council. Its mission: to figure out how CEOs can better manage the so-called information workers who make up 70% of the work force. "It's pretty easy to count tons of steel produced or bushels of grain," says MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson. But how do you measure the productivity of a lawyer or a benefits administrator? "It's probably not right to count the number of memos he or she produces," he jokes. Brynjolfsson also plans to publish "broadly applicable guidelines" on technology spending that will help small companies determine which systems provide the greatest return on investment. The council will even look at ways to improve personal productivity -- "how you can use e-mail and schedule meetings more efficiently," Brynjolfsson says.