• 18 Aug 2017 8:44 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    France takes the summer off.  Many factories close down for a month while workers holiday en masse.

    Other European countries also take longer holidays than the UK. 

    Yet the productivity of these countries is higher.

    Can anyone explain this - it is counter-intuitive.

    I have voiced my doubts about the way we measure national productivity before. 

    Each time I note something like this, I become more convinced that we need to take a fresh look at what we measure and compare.

  • 11 Aug 2017 1:18 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Over the last 50 years, there is no doubt that technology has made significant contributions to GDP and thus to national productivity. However most technology soon reduces in price and thus any contribution is soon lessened. Worse, we appear to be in a relative technology slump - there has been little true innovation in the last few years.

    So, technology is not going to come to our rescue. We have to take the 'low road' and pick up all the small productivity gains we can. We need a systematic, national productivity drive with government addressing policy and infrastructure and companies addressing skills and culture. We can create impact but it's not going to be easy.

  • 04 Aug 2017 10:43 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    A few of my recent posts have related to U K productivity and challenges.  This is not because the UK faces more challenges than anyone else (though Brexit is  causing some fears).

    The UK is going through a 'bad patch' but is at least trying to do something about it with new committees and task forces being established.

    Will they work?

    I doubt it - but they might at least spark a discussion and debate which might release some fresh thinking.

    So I am relatively optimistic.  I hope you are too  - for your country.

    Help generate discussion - that generates ideas.  We need ideas - lots of them. And we need to share them.

    And whether they relate to the UK - or somewhere else is irrelevant.  good ideas are good ideas wherever they originate. So, I make no apology for being rather UK-centric recently.

    In your organisation too, find ways of encouraging idea generation.  The more ideas you have to choose from - the more success is likely.  If you stop people thinking, you stop creativity and innovation.

  • 29 Jul 2017 10:59 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    f your employees were fighting in factions, arguing among themselves and failing to do what you expect them to do, would you continue to pay them?  You might - but presumably you would also initiate disciplinary procedures to try to correct such behaviours.

    I suspect, though, that your answer to the question is that you would not tolerate it - or that it wouldn't happen in your well -run organisation.

    This is, however, what happens regularly, in politics. Both the US and the UK have exhibited such behaviours recently - infighting and squabbling between Republicans and Democrats - or Conservatives and Labourites.  All we, as the voting public, can do is to sit and watch - and perhaps seethe with anger - and wit until the next election.  These infighters and squabblers would not behave like this in the other compartments of their  life, surely.  But they seem to think this is how they are expected to behave as 'politicians'.

    There is an old adage - 'we get the politicians we deserve' - so it must be our fault.

    If we want productive government, we must demonstrate productive behaviours in all we do - and set these 'children' some role models.  We should also write to them and remind them of the constructive and productive behaviours we expect from our elected representatives - and we should certainly use our vote to sanction these unruly and unproductive behaviours whenever we get the chance.

  • 21 Jul 2017 11:25 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    UK productivity in the first quarter of 2017 was the same as it was in 2007.  This  after relentless if sometimes slow growth over many years.So, not only have we not had the bounce i refereed to last week; we seem to have had a capsize and a sinking.

    Successive governments seem to be powerless to do anything about the problem but at leat this current government seem to have recognised the problem - and have set up a new UK Productivity Council to try to do something about it.

    Making up for10 years lost growth is probably impossible - but at least we could get growth moving again.

    W owe it to the next generation to give them some momentum to build on.

  • 14 Jul 2017 3:29 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The UK's Office for National Statistics says that, had productivity in the UK returned to its pre-recession trend, it would be 20% higher than its current level. Britain would be one fifth better off.

    The normal pattern is that after a recession, productivity bounces back and we recover (at least most of) what we lost.

    However, we have had no bounce since the great financial crisis.

    It ts not just the UK - the pattern is remarkably similar around the globe.

    The time to wait for the bounce has gone - the UK needs action to recover.

    Let's hope the new Productivity Council can pull the trigger.

  • 07 Jul 2017 10:57 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Canada's labour productivity rose 1.4% in Q1 2017.

    This is not a spectacular result but a solid performance.

    Sometimes, slow and steady progress is preferable to high gain, fall-back performance.  (Think 'tortoise and hare'.)

    This is exactly why continuous improvement programmes, resulting in a number of evolutionary performance gains, often beat the occasional revolutionary improvement brought about by say, a technology change.

    Ideally, of course, we want both - but waiting for the revolution is a bad strategy.  We need to keep the pressure on organisations to make the many, small improvements.

    Take Canada as your role model!

  • 30 Jun 2017 6:37 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We have been told a few times that what creates success is sheer hard work... the perspiration not the inspiration, and the 10,000 hours.  But many great men (and women) have achieved their greatness by original thought  by avoiding the 10,000 (wasted)  hours.

    it seems that both routes might take you to success - and it perhaps depends on the kind of person you are as to what is right for you.

    But what about a company.  They can't 'plod on' for 10,000 hours and expect an insight - or the achievement of some kind of superskill.

    So, whoever runs the company has to have the insight - about a new product, a changed process, a new way of doing business - to transform the business.

    If you are not thinking about how to transform and revolutionise your business -  wha are you doing?  How are you earning your keep?

  • 23 Jun 2017 9:08 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    I try to keep up to date with productivity trends and productivity news.

    In scanning the airwaves and the twittersphere, I often see governments urging their citizens to be more productive.

    At least in religions when people are urged to be more 'holy' there are priests and other religious leaders helping prepare them to be more holy - and explaining what being more holy means.

    So, who are the productivity priests explaining to these probably confused citizens what they should do - and how they should behave - to be more productive.

    What is the body that takes the role of 'church'?

  • 16 Jun 2017 1:09 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    In the UK, we have been through a rather exciting General Election - though as I write this, we have the same government and the same Prime Minister.

    In their campaigns, all parties made us promises - of what they would do and deliver - better health care, more jobs, lower taxes, etc.

    How would they pay for those promises that cost money- by raising taxes or cutting costs elsewhere.  (Oh yeah, that's going to happen!)

    But how many of the parties mentioned the only real way of paying for the promises - higher productivity.

    You guessed it ... not one of them.

    If politicians looking for solutions don't realise that productivity is the answer - what hope is there?

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