• 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.



  • 28 Sep 2018 3:02 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Parkinson’s Law famously stated that work expands to fill the time available. That is why we say “If you want something doing, give it to a busy person.”


    Non-busy people make themselves look busy by expanding the work to fill their available time. Busy people fit the work into their available resources, condensing the time to what’s left in their busy schedule.


    As a manager, your job is to distinguish between the truly busy (and effective) and the work stretchers.


  • 21 Sep 2018 4:11 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I was musing about robots recently - as one does ... and started thinking about the sociology of such devices. Humans in a work situation can be excellent performers as  individuals but the real performance gains come when humans are organised into cooperative and collaborative teams.


    Will the same be true for robots?


    The answer to this has  little to do with the possible  effects on your business.  This is a question for wider society - and for policy makers.


    Are robot designers and manufacturers building ‘social skills’. Into their robots. Modern AI and machine learning approaches should make this possible. If robots could organise themselves into cooperative and collaborative groups, we may be astonished at the productivity gains we see.


     AI is quite a controversial area with many observers and commentators nervous about the potential threats in the future from sentient, intelligent (though artificial) beings.


    With the potential for cooperative abilities built in, we might see highly efficient autonomous workgroups ... but sometime in the future could we see robot ‘trades unions’ and even robot armies. 


  • 14 Sep 2018 8:44 AM | 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. 


  • 07 Sep 2018 7:37 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Artificial Intelligence is said to be set to revolutionise many sectors. Is this a force for productivity gains or just a threat to jobs?


    Well, as the Australian Productivity Commission said recently, technology has over time created many more jobs than it has replaced.  But like Moore’s law, most technology trends eventually come to a juddering halt. So, AI might destroy more jobs than it creates.


    If so, we will need to change how we distribute and share wealth - the fruits of productivity. Wealth inequality has been growing over the last 20 years. We have seen very few experiments in halting, or even slowing, it.


    Yet, unless we find a way of ensuring that the many without work share the gains made by the few in work, society seems doomed.


    Of course I could be wrong. (I often am.) Ai might create a range if jobs that we haven’t even thought about yet ... and we will continue our march of inequality to ....???

  • 31 Aug 2018 8:10 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Modern workplaces seem antagonistic to efficient working and productivity.  They are noisy, stressful, full of constant chatter. constant interruptions from telephones, streams of emails and so on.


    Perhaps its time to turn the clock back.  Get rid of some of the technology. Start to think about the workers, not the kit. We know that productivity is all about people - let's show them we believe that by thinking about their needs. 


    Let's give them the time and space they need to be productive and creative.


  • 24 Aug 2018 7:53 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Most of us try to organise our working day to maximise performance and efficiency. Yet for many of us that day can be ruined before it really starts. 


    If we rise and start worrying about what we should wear (which tie?) and then have a stressful commute, we have drained some of our precious potential energy.


    So start your working day the night before. Plan your wardrobe, plan your commute (including the distractions from the stress - your music, podcast or reading material). 


    Smile at your fellow commuters ... you will get smiles back and feel better.


    Arrive at work ready to go and hit the ground running by attacking an agenda you established before you left yesterday.


    A good start is so important.



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