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Monday, January 4, 2010

First Order Producers

After a meeting last month, one of my customers called and said, “Did you see all those really accomplished senior managers in the meeting who are either unemployed or underemployed? We should figure out a way to make money with that kind of asset!”

I had noticed, but my thinking was a little different.

Yes, they are senior, they are accomplished, and they are underemployed.
I think that is because in the course of their work, they have gone from first order producers to second and third order producers.

Since I am making these terms up, let me explain them.

First order producers grow, make, sell, or count work.

Second order producers organize, manage, or administer first order producers.

Third order producers find ways to improve the growing, making, selling, counting, organizing, managing, or administering process.

In a recovering economy, we have more of a need for first order producers. The growth of second and third order producers during the boom was an attempt to “do more with less.” That may not be as desirable in a restart as growing, making, selling and counting.

The best second and third order producers I have worked with started as first order producers and were moved to leverage their efficiencies. Of course, many others found themselves in higher order positions and used that as an excuse to consume coffee.

There are new breakthroughs to be discovered and used, but as work changes, we need a face-to-face familiarity with it to improve it. I suspect the next crop of second and third order producers will have experience with new types of growing, making, selling, and counting.

Your thoughts?


  1. There is a need for second and third order producers. At this point in the economy, must companies seem to be encouraging them to be also first order producers. Or at least to be on the "front line" with the first order producers. This is necessary to boost sales but must be done delicately so that egos are not bruised.

    I am sure there is a lot room to comment on this also.

  2. I think that both Dick and Randy have made good points. If times are tough, and they certainly are for many, then being productive, being a first order producer, will definitely help the company and help the worker to keep their job.