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  • 10 Aug 2018 6:40 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We all know he importance of backing up the work we do on computer - even if we don't always practise what we know we should.


    We also know we should have some form of backup service for the primary services and technologies we use - this can be expensive however, to maintain services we will hopefully never use.


    Like all 'insurance' we have to weigh the risks with the costs and take rational decisions. What we must not do is to pretend the problem /issue does not exist and fail to plan.


    If we have staff waiting around because core systems are not working, it can be very expensive.




  • 03 Aug 2018 5:08 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    When giving talks to people about productivity, I often express my amazement - and my worry - that governments spend a lot of time working on the wrong things.


    For example, in the UK at the current time, Brexit has been dominating the time of Parliament  and the Cabinet.


    Brexit is important- but it doesn't solve any of the UK's underlying productivity problems.


    Government needs to do what we all have to do - sort out the urgent from the important - and make sure longer-term planning is not forgotten for the sake of short-term expediency.


  • 26 Jul 2018 10:21 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Does technology improve productivity?


    Silly question, isn't it?


    Well no. If you could monitor what your staff are 'working' on all the time, you would find that many book holidays, contact their medical practitioner, look for theatre schedules - and so on ... all in your time.


    They work more productively on task perhaps but the time they gain they treat as their own.


    I am not suggesting you put sophisticated monitoring software on their PCs - they would only use their phones...  but that you recognise these unintended consequences of introducing technology.


    The same is true of other technologies - what we expect to gain we often do ... but we might lose other elements to the technology - and the net gain might be less than we expect. When you do the sums, make sure you factor in unintended negative consequences. If the sums still work, go ahead.  if the negative consequences don't arise - you get a premium!


  • 20 Jul 2018 8:28 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    This week is The Open Golf Championship - what Americans like to call the British Open but is is THE Open.


    The Open obviously has the best golfers in the world - and as with most majors recently rends to be won by an American golfer.  This leads t=you to believe that American golfers are the world's best.


    Yet, Europe regularly beats America in the Ryder Cup - a team event. 


    Successful teams need more than individual talent.  Whether in sport or in business, building an effective team needs individuals to be put together so they are complementary - and on top it needs team spirit and motivation.


    Whoever wins this Open, I would still bet on Europe for the Ryder Cup.  The US college golf system makes US players competitive but not good team players. 


  • 12 Jul 2018 8:56 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I read a piece the other day on the use of productivity measures for academic staff. The measures were all about output quantity (presumably with the proviso that papers wouldn’t be published if they didn’t meet quality criteria). However what matters is not quantity of output or quality of output but the impact of that output - how is thinking or practice changed as a result. This is difficult to measure as truly innovative and original ideas could take years to achieve their full impact. But attempting to judge it - even subjectively - might be a better measure than simply counting it.



    Productivity measures can be quite difficult to establish in certain contexts but we should be as creative with our measures as we are with our productivity improvements. 


  • 06 Jul 2018 7:32 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Does technology improve productivity?


    Silly question, isn't it?


    Well no. If you could monitor what your staff are 'working' on all the time, you would find that many book holidays, contact their medical practitioner, look for theatre schedules - and so on ... all in your time.


    They work more productively on task perhaps but the time they gain they treat as their own.


    I am not suggesting you put sophisticated monitoring software on their PCs - they would only use their phones...  but that you recognise these unintended consequences of introducing technology.


    The same is true of other technologies - what we expect to gain we often do ... but we might lose other elements to the technology - and the net gain might be less than we expect. When you do the sums, make sure you factor in unintended negative consequences. If the sums still work, go ahead.  if the negative consequences don't arise - you get a premium!


  • 29 Jun 2018 7:38 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Most of us believe that technology has a good track record in improving productivity.


    But there have been many promised futures that did not come about.  Think 'the paperless office' for one.  This was first mooted back in the 1960s and every decade or so, someone promotes the concept again (normally scanner manufacturers).


    Well, mindful of stepping onto a burning platform, I think - finally - the time might be nigh.  Scanners - yes! but more so -cheap storage ... especially cloud storage, accessible from anywhere in the world - could be the real key.  Add in effective search mechanisms to find the documents in that cloud and we might have a winning formula.


    Oh, and of course we have a generation of users brought up in the digital era - who are quite used to reading things off screens.


    A perfect storm?



  • 22 Jun 2018 7:41 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I think it was Mark Twain who one said that eating a live frog early every morning means you know the worst is behind you and you can get on with your day with confidence.  (Literary quotes are often difficult to attribute ... most of them have allegedly been said by Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw.)


    In your business life, the equivalent practice is to start the day with an unpleasant task - something you want to put off but know you shouldn't.  Get it out of the way while you are still fresh and still have energy ... you will tackle it better... and then the rest of the day is unsullied by this fearsome task.  You will work more productively without the threat of it hanging over you.



  • 15 Jun 2018 8:29 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We have seen lots of talk over the last few years by various governments about the need for more sustainable development - and less dependence on fossil fuels.


    Yet, the rise in the use of fossil fuels goes on - along with the associated pollution and environmental damage.


    If most businesses over-promised and under-delivered to the same degree, they would be out of business fairly quickly.


    So it must be our fault; we would stop buying from poorly performing companies, yet we continue to support poorly performing governments.


    Because, like governments, we talk a lot but do little ... in the end we vote for what saves the money in our pocket, not what saves the planet.


    Policy-makers need to find a way of motivating us to do the right thing.


    So it is their fault - they pontificate about environmental performance but should be concentrating on consumer behaviour.  Sort us out - and we'll sort out the planet (if sufficiently motivated by appropriate rewards or penalties).


  • 08 Jun 2018 7:15 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    All nations want to increase their productivity.  This makes them more competitive, brings rewards for citizens and allows society to develop.


    The problem is that no-one is quite sure how it can be achieved.


    There seem to be as many solutions (or strategies) as there are nations.


    Is there a simple answer?


    No!  It is right that each nation tackles the problem from their own context and their own starting point.


    Beyond that there will be obvious similarities - build a macroeconomic environment that supports small businesses, build transport and technology infrastructure, educate and train the workforce, support innovation - all simple in principle but not quite a simple in practice, especially when scaled up to national level.


    However, at least (and at last) we are seeing positive efforts to address the issue of productivity.


    If you can address it in your organisation - and people like you can do the same - the collective effort might bear fruit.


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