Like every organisation, we’re always looking at how technology can help us do our job.

How it can make us more productive.

Innovation is one of our key values (take a look at our Council Plan). So is flexibility.

And, if we use it wisely, technology can make us far more innovative and flexible in how we work. And that can make us more productive.

However, it’s easy to start thinking that productivity starts with technology. You adopt a snazzy new tool or platform, and then wait for the productivity explosion.

It doesn’t work out.

Because shiny new tools don’t make people more productive. Not by themselves.

putting a man on the moon

A colleague of mine listened to a talk by Dave Coplin of Microsoft recently. He signposted me to the footage on YouTube, and it’s really interesting.

One of the key points Mr Coplin makes is that a lot of employers miss the point in thinking productivity is driven by technology.

But it’s not. It’s driven by purpose.

He cites that famous story about former US president John F Kennedy asking a cleaner at NASA what he does. “I’m helping to put a man on the moon” he replies.

Basically, employees with purpose are productive. So the purpose needs to be there first, and then you use technology in a way that helps make that purpose more achievable.

That makes a lot of sense, and articulates something we’re trying to achieve here at Wrexham Council.

At every opportunity, we try and communicate our values and objectives to employees, and implement projects and changes that allow them to live those values.

So hopefully – over time – everyone starts to get a clear sense of where we’re trying to get to.

It’s not easy. Particularly during moments of organisational change. But there’s no doubt in my mind that productivity is driven by purpose.

the right tools?

So we’re trying to embed that sense of purpose here at Wrexham Council. But what about using technology to make that purpose more achievable?

Well. We’re making progress.

We’ve been using technology to encourage ‘agile’ working for a while now.

Employees can access emails, tools and systems remotely, or work from ‘hot-desks’ (not just in council buildings, but in some instances at partner agencies like our local hospital).

This reduces the need to travel to and from a single workplace, and helps them stay closer to the locations and customers they need to reach.

And we’ve just given all employees access to social media. A small step in the grand scale of things, but an important one for us – allowing colleagues to tap into relevant content on Twitter, YouTube and so on.

We’ve also developed a consultation tool with our partners called Your Voice Wrexham.

Not because the technology is there, but because one of our missions is to put our customers at the heart of our decision-making. That means understanding their views on key topics.

So we’ve developed Your Voice Wrexham to help us gather those views and feed them into our decision-making processes. Topics like our budget proposals for 2015-16.

Without the technology, it would be a lot more difficult to understand how customers feel.

So the key point is this.

When it comes to productivity, technology is just the oil on the gears. It’s purpose that really makes people productive.