Most organizations are only operating at 60 percent efficiency even though they may have the most cutting edge information technology available.

I was at a conference recently where a speaker asked an audience of some 600 intranet professionals to raise their hands if their organizations used SAP. About 60 percent of the audience put their hands up. Then the speaker asked the audience: "How many of you like using SAP?" Not a single hand went up. Not one.

Over the years I have been struck by how awfully designed internal systems are. Most internal tools I come across are more like instruments of torture than the drivers of efficiency they are supposed to be. What is even more shocking is that nobody in management cares. There is an almost total lack of leadership.

Recently, I had problems with online banking. After lots of frustration with technical support, I rang my bank manager. In the past, whenever I had a problem he had been extremely helpful and made sure it was resolved immediately. This time around, things were different. "I'm not technical," he told me. He began to talk about his bank's online banking service as if it were a foreign country he had rarely visited. He was behaving like a typical senior manager when it came to IT. He wanted to wash his hands of responsibility. It was not his domain. IT, it seems, is not the responsibility of senior managers or CEOs. They have much more important things to do, obviously.

"Most senior executives have assessed that their workforce is operating at only 60% to 65% of their potential," states a 2009 white paper entitled The High Cost of Doing Nothing (PDF), from The Ken Blanchard Companies. "As surprisingly low as this may sound, it is very similar to the results of a large survey of 1,300 private-sector companies conducted by Proudfoot Consulting in 2002," the paper continues. "In that survey, conducted with companies from seven of the world's leading economies, Proudfoot found that, on average, only 59% of work time is productive."

"Although most people are working very hard these days, we have found that each individual in an organization can still increase productivity by at least 30%," productivity expert Tor Dahl states. "How can that be? The answer lies in the fact that most workers, often of no fault of their own, are not working on the right things in the right way. The culprits are a variety of organizational 'ills,' including lack of clear directions and goals, sub-optimized processes, excessive paperwork and reporting requirements, unproductive meetings, inappropriate systems and tools, etc."

When you make life harder for your employees you reduce efficiency and affect morale -- a double whammy. Employees hate these clunky, horribly processes that make their worklife a drudge. "Employees are our most valuable resource", senior managers like to say. Sure, and that's why the intranet is so terrible. Employees are not dumb. They get the message of what senior management really thinks about them and their time.

There is a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. There is clear evidence that increasing employee satisfaction increases profitability, particularly over the long term. It has been found that for a typical organization, moving from average to exceptional employee satisfaction levels results in a 3.8% increase in revenue growth.