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  • 18 Feb 2021 7:37 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Remote working has been necessary during the pandemic - the alternative for many was no working.     Many organisations have adjusted to the need for remote technologies and remote communication.

    Have they, though, adjusted to the need for remote team building?

    Some of the tools and techniques of team bonding and team building work remotely.  Others do not.  

    Organisations should think carefully about the makeup of their teams, and the degree to which teams have established themselves as effective and productive teams before they are forced to work remotely.  Those who are already established may make the transition easily and successfully …. but it might depend on the nature of the work and the degree to which it requires mutual confidence and trust.

    You might consider ice-breaker games (for new teams), team quizzes and puzzles, virtual scavenger hunts, reward ceremonies  and so on - anything which improves communication,. engagement, morale and well- being.

    It is ineffective to simply assume teams will bond and be productive; you have to create cohesion and cooperation.  Teams are vital cogs in your organisational machinery - and just like your machinery  and equipment, regular maintenance is essential.

  • 11 Feb 2021 5:24 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many business leaders know that they should be thinking of digitally transforming their operations to harness the power and connectivity of modern electronic devices and networks.  

    However too many of them approach ‘transformation’ in a cautious, tentative way.  They pilot technologies or apply them to small parts of the organisation ‘to see if they work’.

    The problem is that the benefits only start to accrue when the whole organisation becomes interconnected and data flows freely across organisational boundaries.  At lesser levels of application, costs are often higher than the benefits.  

    Business leaders want to ‘test and learn’ so they apply technology ta a distinct organisational silo - department, divison or process.  Not surprisingly, when the results are less than spectacular, they consider the pilot a failure and cease investing.

    True transformation needs bold leadership and a holistic approach. The key is to integrate and interconnect several such pilots and assess the collective, cumulative impact.

    Of course, there is an element of risk - and it is often worth working with a third party integrator or advisor with existing experience … but the leadership must be committed to transformation, rather than simple incremental improvement.

    Beyond piloting lies productivity - and profitability!

  • 04 Feb 2021 8:31 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Evolution is normally a more stable process than revolution.  Changes are incremental, slow and secure, embedded before the next change occurs.

    So, if you can, you are probably better trying to evolve your business into an improved, more productive organisation.

    The process still needs to be managed. You need to ensure the organisation is prepared for evolution.  The direction of travel needs to be determined. Staff need the necessary skills for the changed situation.  Technological changes need to be planned.

    Its still not an easy process but an evolution from the present to a new vision can be managed and shaped if addressed systematically. 

    Start now!

    (Of course, if the pandemic or market forces have put your business at risk or in crisis, you might need a revolution.  Good luck with that!)

  • 28 Jan 2021 7:08 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Can productivity be raised too far?

    Is high productivity ever a problem?

    Well, it depends on how you look at it and the context/situation you are considering/measuring.

    For example, it is possible, by applying productivity improvement to one part of a process or sequence of activities, to create a bottleneck where the throughput of the target activity is greater than the productivity of the activities of the other parts of the process.

    So, productivity needs to be optimised for the whole process, not maximised for any one part of it.

  • 21 Jan 2021 8:39 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If you can’t control events or situations, you might find yourself getting anxious.  This is negative thinking, likely to have an adverse effect on your performance and productivity.

    In such situations, it is important to identify what you can control and focus on those things.

    For example, when the pandemic hit, it was an external, major event.  You, within your organisation, were powerless to stop the threat affecting your organisation and your people.

    But, you could control how the organisation reacted to the threat.  You could, previously, have controlled how the organisation planned for such an emergency.

    You could control the external messaging with stakeholders.

    Never waste time worrying about factors affecting your organisation, your processes or your people if you have no influence or control.  Turn the focus inward, into the organisation and work with those factors where you do have influence or control.  

    You will feel better and be more effective.

  • 14 Jan 2021 10:08 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    There is some research evidence from India that suggests that providing farmers with information and advice about the use of pesticides, high yield seeds, weather forecasts, etc is more important than ‘showing them what to do’.  Farmers react more positively when you leave responsibility with them.  

    Of course, today the technology exists to provide advice and information ‘just in time’ via mobile phones. If an advice service can provide information on seeds as the sewing season start, it is much better than giving a lecture 6 months before the second starts. 

    In fact, this is a general principle.

    Try to identify what information people need to be more productive and provide it in a convenient and timely form just as they need it. 

  • 08 Jan 2021 7:50 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    As we gain hope, and maybe even confidence, with the first anti-virus injections, it is time to reflect on the effects of the pandemic and form plans for the future.

    There are two main items of consideration.

    One is your readiness for the pandemic when it happened.  Did you handle it quickly? Well?

    Was such a scenario within your business continuity planning?  Should it have been?

    What would you change about the way in which you handled it?  

    What should you now change to ensure you are better prepared for any repeat?

    The second item to consider is the lessons learned. 

    What have you learned about your organisation?  

    What have you learned about remote working?

    What have you learned about remote management of staff?

    What changes will you make based on this learning?

    If nothing will change, you are missing an opportunity for improvement.  If you miss opportunities for improvement, you will lose competitiveness.

  • 31 Dec 2020 4:53 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Was what you did and achieved in 2020 the best you could do, bearing in mind the limits caused by the pandemic?

    If not, you have to think about what you can do and achieve in 2021 to improve. There is no point repeating what you did last year and expecting better results.

    So, set yourself some performance goals - and then establish a set of action plans to achieve them.

    Simply having goals in mind and striving to achieve them is likely to improve what you do.  If not, you should at least improve your ability to plan and to monitor progress against plans.

    So, a minor win at least - and a major win at best.  What have you got to lose?

    Happy New Year!

  • 24 Dec 2020 10:35 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    It is Christmas day.

    I know some readers do not celebrate Christmas ... but I send greetings anyway.  

    I also remind you that 'festivities' are valuable in  the workplace - to celebrate, and cement, success.

    So, take what chances you can to combine seasonal cheer with rewards for effort and success.

  • 17 Dec 2020 10:10 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Every business - and every manager in that  business - should know what are the critical success factors … what must the company do - and do well - if they are to be successful.  What are the factors that underpin the mission.  

    The aim is not to identify lots of these - but the essential (‘critical’) ones.

    One probably relates in one way to customer satisfaction or service; another (especially in smaller businesses) might relate to the control of work-in-progress and/or cashflow.

    Once these are identified, the business should identify some measure that will tell them how well (or badly) they are doing in relation to each CSF.  These are the organisation’s key performance indicators (KPIs) - and there should be at least one that relates to each CSF.

    Finally, they need to identify actions that will make those indicators move in the right direction, showing progress is being made in relation to the CSFs and towards the mission.

    We like to think of a form of ‘golden thread’ that runs through everything the organisation does - from establishing the mission, to identifying CSFs, to identifying appropriate KPIs - and establishing acv set of action plans.

    The concept is very simple; execution  is harder - but failing to create the golden thread means some important factor may be overlooked.

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