4 D’s of productivity that an Apprentice Asia winner swears by

Cover art Erka Capili Inciong

Words by

Digital Reporter

One of the keys to a successful business is productivity. As in any investment to grow a business, companies should also prioritize making sure that everyone in the team is productive.

According to Jonathan Yabut, first season winner of reality show Apprentice Asia and founder and managing director of international marketing consultancy firm JY Consultancy & Ventures, the philosophy behind productivity at work is keeping everyone asking the question:

Can’t we make it better?

“Can we challenge the status quo and can we look for things that may be cheaper or more affordable better without spoiling lot of things? Cost entails a lot of things—money, efforts, labor, and even a lot of emotions and tears. Your goal is to minimize these if you can preserve that same energy for something else,” Mr. Yabut said during “Pros of Productivity,” a forum organized by Canon Philippines last Oct. 18 at Edsa Shangri‑La, Mandaluyong City.

He shared the following tips for business leaders and employees to improve productivity at work:

Art Erka Capili Inciong

The “secret” for leaders to make employees efficient and productive is to delegate. While many business leaders might think that this is a common practice in their workplace, Mr. Yabut said proper delegation of tasks is the “most overrated thing that people have a hard time executing.”

“You have to let go as business owner or leaders of your messianic complex and trust that people can also do the work for you. This is my pet peeve—people who go on a vacation leave and they let their people do things on their own and suddenly no one will get the job done properly,” he said. “The reason why people don’t get the job done properly because they were not properly trained and develop to do the same tasks or at least create initial mistakes for them to know what would be the next steps.”




Mr. Yabut said business leaders should implement the so‑called “IKEA effect,” or “empowering people to get the job done using their own sweat and blood without feeling like they’re robots being dictated to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Doing so, according to him, allows everyone in a company to think about fulfilling their jobs better instead of getting bothered with other problems such as their salaries.

“When we delegate an amount of tasks to people, not only does it save time for the person who needs to get the tasks done; it makes the people even more creative, more innovative, and at the same time think of something else that makes the project better,” he said.

Art Erka Capili Inciong

According to Mr. Yabut, some tasks are not inherently difficult because some are just “unnecessarily complex.”

Most of the time, he added that things become difficult in an organization not because they are really difficult, but because someone in the organization is “incompetent to design the process and question how can we make things better.”

“I hate organizations [that] just because of one approval document requires 32 vice presidents or assistant vice presidents just to get a project signed up. [This is] simply because all the leaders are afraid of the accountability and they want to spread it across the 32 people. At the expense of that comes the inefficiency of the people, the staff who have to wait for weeks or even months to get a project signed,” he said.

Making things in the company efficient doesn’t mean changing the entire system, he said. Business leaders should “simply minimize things that already existing.”

Art Erka Capili Inciong

According to Mr. Yabut, employees often work a lot not because of too much tasks. Often times they do so because “bosses or themselves require too many unnecessary things for the sake of tangibly feeling that there is hardwork or due diligence.”

He emphasized the difference between working hard and “working smart.”

“I don’t care if you spent 14 hours in the office if another person can get the same job done in four hours with the same quality or even better, you’re working hard, the other person is working smart. And at the end of the day I will promote the person who works smart because he has time to sleep, spend time with family, even go back to the office and more energized and less grumpy,” he said.

“For you to be productive sometime it’s okay to delay. Accept the fact that you can’t do everything today, and it’s also an important thing to know that there are other dragons to slay tomorrow instead,” he said.

Art Erka Capili Inciong

“[A] human beings is wired by his brain to believe that it is always better to do something than not to do anything at all. I beg to differ.”

In many situations, Mr. Yabut added, productivity means “deciding not to do it all” as “sometimes no action is the best solution.”

He said it is important to refuse to do some things and focus on one thing that can potentially make a career successful.

“[That] is the power of focus; [it gives you]the ability to have that laser focus potential and say there are so many beautiful things to do in this world, but this is really my kind,” he said.

Having too many courses in one’s plate does not lead to efficiency, but only causes distraction.

“Your success tomorrow is not just dependant on what you decide to right down, it’s also dependent on what you decided not to right down. That’s where productivity starts,” he said.

“Productivity is not driven by volume. Productivity is driven by knowing what to get done and focusing on it for a certain period of time.”