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  • 07 Dec 2018 8:10 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    On a recent business class flight, the guy next to me got out his laptop and worked on if for most of the flight. I ate the meal, had a drink, snoozed a little and did a crossword. 


    Who was the most productive?


    Well of course, he would claim he was. He got some work done.


    But that is like people who confuse productivity with production. Doing more is not necessarily being more productive.


    In my relaxed time onboard, I was not doing nothing.  I was contemplating, thinking and reflecting. I went into meetings later that week much better prepared and I am convinced the decisions I took that week were ‘better’.


    We get so little time to consider and reflect, it is worth taking the time to stop and do so when you can. In the broader sense, you might get less done ... but your productivity will increase.



  • 30 Nov 2018 8:19 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I only recently cam across TRIZ - a (Russia-originated) problem solving and creativity guide for 'the rest of us' - those who are not creative by nature.  Part of its 'secret' is that it is built 'on the shoulders of giants' - an analysis of past patents and patent applications from which it draws out 'innovative principles'.


    So, to solve a problem you simply (?) decide what type of problem it is, find which general category it falls into, see what people have done in the past - and identify the broad category of solution; apply this broad solution to your problem to create your solution, your new product or whatever.


    This is a relatively analytical approach to creativity - whoever would have thought that was possible,


    Such an approach may or may not suit you and your team - but I recommend you read up and try it. You have little to lose - and you might dramatically improve your creativity.


  • 23 Nov 2018 8:28 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Every week there is commentary in  the US press about the productivity of football (NFL and/or college) teams or individual players.


    This is not productivity - it is about performance  ... but fails to use an output/input ratio ... the very essence of productivity.


    Player performance is important - but US sport (or sports reporters) uses far too many spurious  statistics - and language that upsets a relative purist - the winningest team and so on.


    They cite previous performances ands results between two teams as if it might have some bearing on the current matchup.


    I am sure fans find it interesting ... I hope they do because a lot of resource goes into compiling these statistics ... but do they do harm.


    I can image in a player on team X saying after a loss to team Y, "Well, its 27 years since we've beaten them - what do you expect?"  If you build a reputation, some players and teams will succumb to it.

    Statistics are real - but can be used to motivate if applied and employed correctly.


    Think before you apply measures - in football, and in business.


  • 15 Nov 2018 10:03 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Do you want an innovative organisation - a creative workforce?


    If so, think about when you,. yourself,  last had an original (or half original) thought. Not recently?


    Well, if you can't think originally, why and how do you expect your staff to do so?


    You need to be disciplined about thinking - and about adopting approaches and techniques that encourage creativity. You need to work at it - to practice those techniques and force yourself into situations where you have to think.  (I recommend looking at TRIZ - look it up!)


    When you start thinking, you can start encouraging your staff to do so.


    What's it like being a role model? You are about to find out.



  • 09 Nov 2018 7:45 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I have recently been writing assessments for students on productivity-related courses.  This is one of the more difficult exercises in academic life - and, of course, exceedingly important ...both for the quality of the qualification involved  -  and  for the future life of the students.


    One of the advantages is that it makes you think carefully about what you are testing - and therefore about the content and makeup of the course.  Assessment is in some ways a summary of the course - setting out its main purposes.  The big distinction between different types of course is whether, on successful completion, students should know stuff - or be able to do stuff.  This reflects massively in the forms of assessment you can use. Testing 'doing' is much harder than testing 'knowing'.


    I am much more interested in the 'doing' - after all I want people to be able to improve productivity, not know about improving productivity in theory.  I think the assessments we use are getting better at testing the 'doing' but our situation, and our testing, is complicated because we are creating online courses - with online assessments.


    I will improve - I review student performance on assessments and try to work out where the flaws in the assessment itself have contributed to poor performance.


    What I am trying to do, of course, is to improve my productivity - not in producing more assessments in the same timescale (though that would be nice) but by improving the quality of the assessments - and thus the value offered to customers(students).


    Productivity pops up everywhere, doesn't it!  If I can't improve my own productivity, how can I expect to teach others how to do it?



  • 02 Nov 2018 7:54 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Those of you who read last week's post will know I was in the USA on vacation.  I am now back in the UK and can reflect on the political differences.


    The USA was preparing for the mid-term elections and there was continual political advertising on the TV - most of which was completely negative, attacking opponents rather than offering positive suggestions and solutions to America's ills.


    The UK seems much more policy based - and far less confrontational (though it does have its moments).  But there is far too much discussion and pontification about Brexit (Britain's exit from the European Union).


    Neither set of politicians seems focused to any degree on productivity - yet that is the only issue that is likely to increase the wealth and well-being of their citizens.  The only concern of most politicians seems to be their own re-election ... policy and principles come much further down the list of priorities.


    How do we convince them to take productivity seriously? Do we need to turn it into a contentious issue they can debate and even argue about - and be confrontational with their 'enemies'? 


    The problem is if we take that approach, while we do that, their real (economic) enemies are improving their productivity and winning the economic war.  We need focus now!



  • 26 Oct 2018 1:25 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I’m currently touring parts of the USA with my son, on vacation. We both like a mix of natural beauty, tradition and live music. Tradition anchors a country in its core vales, though the U.S  is having great difficulty at present at remembering and applying its own core values as carved on the Statue of Liberty and enshrined in the constitution.  If, as individuals, organisations or nations, we forget our core values, we run around aimlessly with no clear direction, no purpose and no empathy. The result can be disaster. Sure we can seize opportunities but where do we take them, how do we shape them. 


    I believe that productivity creates wealth and that if we share that wealth equitably, we create the conditions for peace and understanding. Everything I do in the productivity arena is framed by that belief, that one core value. If I can create ‘tradition’ based on my application of that central value, I will be proud and fulfilled.



    What values shape your aims, aspirations and behaviours - and dictate the future of your organisation?


  • 19 Oct 2018 2:36 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I read a blog  the other day (yes, I do read other people’s blogs). It advised people to set reasonable goals. This is similar to most advice on goal setting - goals should be, according to received wisdom, realistic  and attainable.


    However, when an organisation is under severe threat, realistic goals may not be enough. They might improve performance but they won’t transform it!Sometimes unrealistic goals are needed- goals which demand revolutionary, innovative thinking .. not more of the same but a little improved.



    So, not all the time but occasionally, challenge your teams by setting unreasonable goals which force them to consider the ‘impossible’, the revolutionary. If they can make that attainable, they will be immensely proud and you should be much more productive.


  • 12 Oct 2018 1:56 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    When I was growing up, there was a great controversy about whether fluoride should be added to drinking water to combat tooth decay in children.  In the end, science ’won’ and children’s teeth have been much healthier since.


    Now we have a need to combat another problem. Politicians have become very adept at ignoring science and ‘going with their gut instinct’ or, far more likely, political expediency. The Donald is twitterific in his criticism of the press and others who hold opposing views. ‘Fake news’ he asserts, ignoring anything factual or scientifically proven if it conflicts with his personal view.


    We desperately need a new fluoride -a magical potion that can combat this ‘truth decay’.



  • 05 Oct 2018 8:17 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If, at the end of a typical working day (of, say, 8 hours), you had to go and start another job elsewhere, I would expect your performance on Job 2 to be limited and poor.


    Yet, in many organisations, we see people working well into the evening or taking work home with them - in effect, starting Job 2.


    We have to find ways of getting our work done in less than 8 hours per day - or we are creating conditions for tired people and poor performance.


    Even worse, if we do this over a long time, we create the conditions for poor health, for mistakes, for poor judgement.


    If you have employees working excessively long hours, don’t be proud of them. Be ashamed of yourself for not planning and organising the work more effectively, for creating improved risk of failure.



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