• 01 Apr 2021 3:29 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    March 15th was National Napping Day and March was National Sleep Awareness Month. 

    A Pew Research Center survey found that 34% of Americans take daily naps.

    Many peple find a midday snooze flips off their power switch and reboots their work engine for the rest of the day. Its certainly less harmful to your body than drinking several  cups of coffee to keep you alert and productive through the afternoon slump. 

    According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30 minutes or less of catnapping can “restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce mistakes and accidents” in the workplace.

    Some businesses have caught on, recognising the benefits of alertness, reduction in errors and increased productivity. In fact, more and more companies are encouraging employees to take power naps at work. Some such as Nike, Pizza Hut and Thrive Global Inc. even provides special rooms with specially designed chairs for snoozing.

    So, if you see some of your employees taking a nap midday, congratulate them for their initiative.

    Your productivity should benefit.

  • 25 Mar 2021 5:13 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Can a personal productivity guru help you reach new productivity heights?

    Many of  us look to new tools and techniques, new technologies, new approaches to stimulate our thinking about how to get more done in the same time.

    These new ‘things’ seem to work for a time and then run out of steam … but, in reality, of course, it is us who run out of steam. 

    Its like our New Year resolutions and our new fitness programme.  The excitement of a new initiative will keep us motivated for a few sessions but then it gets repetitive and the excitement wanes. We move on to the the next exciting initiative. 

    A personal trainer can make a big difference. They can cajole and motivate us, as well as improving technique and helping us do the right things.

    Well, a productivity coach can do the same things - help us improve our productivity.  In the world of Lean Six  Sigma, a Black Belt can perform this function - maintaining a central focus on longer-term productivity improvement.

    If we are not a Lean/Six  Sigma organisation, we still might need someone to help the organisation maintain this productivity focus - someone in the senior team who can direct efforts continually towards productivity improvement.  They should pay for themselves many times over.

    Can you afford not to have such a person?

  • 18 Mar 2021 10:25 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    According to the US Economic Policy Institute, productivity increased by 69.6% since 1979, while the average compensation in wages across the entire economy has grown by 11.6% over the same amount of time.

    The poor workers face other threats.  According to MIT, nearly half a million jobs were lost to automation between 1990 and 2007 alone. Furthermore, the Brookings Institution states that nearly a quarter of all jobs done by humans today are considered at “high risk” of being lost to automation in some way or another in the coming years. 

    As robots and complementary technologies become a fundamental part of the economy, they will drive productivity while ensuring wage growth stagnates as desperate people accept lower-paying jobs.

    So where has the excess wealth gone?

    This question is not hard to answer.

    Over the last 30 years we have seen the rise and rise of the super-rich. In most western countries, and quite a few Eastern ones,  The ruling classes get richer. Many countries are ruled by an oligarchy.

    Those who generate the wealth - by improving their productivity, and taking the risks of being automated out, are falling further behind. This is a basis for social revolution not a happy society.   The ruling classes have failed democracy; voters feel they have a part to play - but whoever is elected makes little difference.  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    Unfairness cannot work over the longer term. 

    We need to ensure that social productivity is improved alongside economic gains.

  • 13 Mar 2021 10:01 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Before lockdown many firms were experimenting with networking/collaborative tools, hoping to improve the inter-connectedness of departments, people and processes.  

    When the lockdown hit, many of them accelerated the move to the various tools and technologies simply to keep the organisation functioning from lots of home locations.  Even those who were not already experimenting were forced to adopt new networking and remote working technologies.

    Now lockdown is at an end (or nearing its end), you have an opportunity to review the use of the tools that have supported remote working - identifying what worked … and what didn’t. 

    Understandably, there will be a tendency to stick with the tools that have become familiar… but we productivity professionals know that there is a danger in accepting the existing satisfactory situation at the expense of missing the chance to move to a better one.

    So, the review is important.  First, though, it is important for you to review what you want the tools to do, to achieve.  Then you can review how well each tool meets your needs.

    So, make sure the lockdown has some positive results and leads you into an improved and more productive future.

  • 04 Mar 2021 7:32 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Young children take some time to accept that delayed gratification can sometimes  be an improvement on instant.  For example, waiting for a treat can make that treat better - the period of anticipation can heighten the pleasure.  Children also learn that saving small amounts of money to build funds fort a bigger purchase increases the choices available.

    Some businesses and businessmen never seem to learn this lesson.  They always aim for short term profit rather than realising that investing gains can significantly increase longer-term gains.

    Strategy is a device for imposing a longer-term view.  The vision must be longer-term and will consist of shorter-term projects and activities that move the organisation towards this longer-term vision.

    Of course, all stakeholders have to accept this need for a longer-term view … so sometimes it is necessary to ‘sell’ the vision, and hence the strategy.

    The gratification (and results) can be more intense if you wait, however.

    Ask a growing child. 

  • 25 Feb 2021 10:25 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Creativity is what will see organisations blossom as we (hopefully) near the end of this pandemic.

    In an office situation, creativity is aided by people bouncing ideas off their co-workers,  They can do this by simply walking down the corridor. When everyone is working from home, you have to find different ways of achieving this. One way is to schedule ‘bounce sessions’ where people with an idea get to present it to a colleague (preferably) or superior. These should be short, crisp sessions (15 minutes should be enough) via telephone or video conference designed to elicit the core of the idea, not details. This could be a regular occurrence, perhaps with colleagues paired up as ‘idea buddies’.  As ever with remote communications, it helps if the buddies have established a working relationship on a face-to-face basis before ‘home isolation’ started.

    We are not looking for detailed review or evaluation of ideas - simply confirmation that an idea is worth pursuing.  It helps the idea generator keep on track and means they receive positive feedback.  This helps them focus and move forward to develop the ideas with confidence.

  • 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.

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