• 04 Nov 2017 7:31 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    A recent discussion paper from the African Union suggests that the fact that Asia has achieved the highest economic growth rates in the world in the last half century may not be unrelated to the existence of many vibrant National Productivity Organizations (NPOs) in the Asia-Pacific region and the activities of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), the only intergovernmental regional organization that is actively promoting the cause of productivity.


    Can the AU (and PAPA - the PanAfrican Productivity Association)  match the impact of APO?


    Well, they are going to try. Let's wish them well. The world needs a productive Africa!

    BUT are the existing NPOs in Africa 'vibrant'?  Sadly, I fear not.  But a new, collective initiative might re-energise them - especially if they have government and AU support.


  • 28 Oct 2017 7:29 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    At a recent Institute of Management Services event in the UK, I was lucky to share a platform with Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas - -a an expert in corporate transformation.


    His views (thankfully) overlapped with, and complemented, mine.


    My 'executive takeaway' of his presentation is that:


    In high performing organisations, rarely are key business processes carried out exactly as specified and trained. They rely on people who are above average and above mere compliance.


    We need to explore new models and build flexible, adaptable, networked organisations - combinations of people and technology.


    Think about those statements for a minutes or two - and then think how you can enact them.


  • 20 Oct 2017 7:55 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Productivity doesn't just happen - it has to be designed in to the business, supporting the overall strategic vision and plan and underpinned by the establishment of key metrics.


    So, you need a plan.  What are you going to change?  What are you going to investigate? What do toy NEED to change?  Where are your problems? Where are your opportunities for improvement?  Where might technology help? How might you develop your staff to help them improve your business? What do your competitors do better than you?


    Answering these - and similar - questions should help you stat the planning process. 


    You don't need a revolution - but you do need to think about where you might make a number of small improvements that  could make a difference - impacting on what you do or how you do it - and impacting on your 'bottom line'.


    So, as from next week - or even today - question, think, plan  and act.

  • 06 Oct 2017 12:27 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    'Thingy' is a word used in the UK by many people to represent something whose name they cannot recall - a 'whatdyacallit', a 'thingymajig'.  All cultures and languages have such words.


    I use it here because it reminds me of the 'next big thing' (or should that be next big thingy)?


    This - according to some - is the Internet of Things - the networking of physical objects.


    Manifestations so far seem to be 'home automation' - devices that will change the colour of your lighting or switch on your kettle as you enter the house, or when you use your phone to direct it to.


    So far, I have been underwhelmed. It seems remarkable how few of these things I want to do at all, let alone automatically or 'more conveniently'. It might be 'early days' and in a few years I might be amazed at the possibilities but, for now, you can keep these thingies that are so clever - I'll work with my old technology for now.



  • 29 Sep 2017 8:26 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Has the open plan office had its day.


    When they were first introduced, they were seen as being facilitators of communication, interaction and cooperation - bringing disparate groups together.


    Now when I see them I think of them as being facilitators of noise and distraction. 


    It was always the case anyway that some employees found them uncomfortable - exposing and intimidating.


    Ia m not saying that they cannot work - only that they should be chosen for those situations where they CAN work - and rejected for situations where they are distractors. 


    We need more hybrid offices where those that need them can work in private spaces - after all there are other technical means now of improving communication and interaction ....  the office design does not have to do that.

  • 22 Sep 2017 12:29 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Fairly recently, the UK government issued a draft Industrial Strategy.  Any discussion on this seems to have been drowned out by the Brexit rhetoric.  Yet it is too important to ignore. UK productivity is low - wages are low - living standards are low. We need a kick up the backside, to shock us into action ... or we need a sensible, long-term strategy.


    Instead what we get is Brexit posturing - and all the media attention is fixed on that (and Trump, of course).


    When I advise companies, I tell them to beware of concentrating on the urgent at the risk of ignoring the important.  Well, productivity improvement is both urgent and important - it is the only way out of the low wage, low living standards cycle.


    Put the industrial strategy back on the table, please.



  • 15 Sep 2017 11:50 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Last week we talked about productivity levels - and the conundrum about unemployment and wage levels.


    I suggested, as I have done several times lately, that we might need to reconsider how we measure productivity - since the measure used to compare nations uses labour productivity.


    But the growth of robots and other automation devices has distorted this figure.  The cost of the robots is not part of labour cost - and their hours are not part of labour hours.


    So, nations that have automated the most lose in the productivity figures.  This does not seem right.

    This investment goes unrewarded and we are no longer comparing like with like.


  • 08 Sep 2017 3:08 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Most of the old economic certainties have gone.


    For many years, the 'rule' was the as unemployment levels dropped, wages would rise (to entice workers away from others to your organisation).  Since the great 2008 financial crisis, this has not proved true.  Unemployment has dropped to the point where the UK is close to full employment - but wages have not risen correspondingly (though they have risen).


    This position is mirrored throughout the developed world.


    The experts don't seem to know why this is so or whether this is a temporary phenomenon.


    We seem to be in a position where all we can do is 'watch this space', 'wait and see'.


    Or, as I have been suggesting in this blog lately, do  we need to change the way in which we measure productivity - to reflect the changed nature of industry.


  • 01 Sep 2017 5:00 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The UK government recently established the Productivity Leadership Group (PLG)  to try and boost the nation's productivity.


    The PLG says that if all except our most competitive businesses were able to improve their productivity to match the companies ranked 10 per cent above them, an additional £130bn Gross Value Added (GVA) would be unlocked every year – certainly a boost to business confidence and national productivity.


    The power of benchmarking of this kind is that when organisations see that others (and especially others in the same sector) are already achieving such results, it shows the 'art of the possible'. "If they can do it, we can too."


    This is why we always suggest that governments should carry out sector benchmarking - and show organisations what is achievable - preferably against a number of productivity variables.... so that any one organisation might find its performs well against some of these variables but poorly against others.  If it could raise performance to be among the top performers against all variables, it would gain a significant productivity increase.


  • 25 Aug 2017 12:36 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The US has created lots of jobs since President Tump was elected.  I am sure he will take the credit - and bask in the reflected glory.


    President Trump should be careful, though.  America's productivity is not rising.  Any wage rises will be at the expense of inflation.  In a year's time, we may have a better guide to the success of his policies - for now, those in work will be pleased... but may find their wage being eroded.


    Short-term gains are often illusory.


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