• 09 Feb 2018 7:31 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    As Peru prepares to celebrate the 2021 bicentenary of its independence, the government has set itself one major goal: to make Peru a full member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).


    The aim is to adopt public policies that meet established OECD standards and provide Peru with an important opportunity to strengthen its institutions and consolidate the country’s development.  But in order to do so, there remain important industrial gaps that will have need be bridged, especially in terms of productivity.


    "So what?  How does this affect me?", I her you ssk.


    Well, the most important part of this is the fact that Peru has set a goal and an aim that should motivate the country to perform.


    What is your productivity aim or goal?  If you don't have one, you are not very likely to be successful in improving your productivity.


  • 03 Feb 2018 8:01 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    There has been a debate in Trinidad yesterday about whether workers (and especially their poor attendance) is to blame for low productivity. Trades unions say 'No'.


    I agree with the unions.


    In my experience, poor productivity within an organisation is almost always a 'system or culture failure'. Either work is badly organised or the culture of the organisation mitigates against high engagement and high performance by workers.


    In your organisation, of course, you hold the levers for change.  If you cannot improve productivity, then you are not managing effectively.


  • 26 Jan 2018 8:12 AM | John Heap (Administrator)
    I often say that I have built my career on asking stupid questions. Improving productivity is all about asking questions.  Why do we do it like that?  Who is responsible for this?  Why do it that way? Where should this be done?  Why do we do this at all?


    However, I have come to realise that asking questions is not the answer.  The real secret is listening to the answers you are given and sorting out the valid answers from the questionable.  In lean terms it is also necessary to 'go to Gemba' - find out for yourself what is happening.  Observe as well as listen.


    None of this is difficult.  But is is amazing how many people don't do it.  They listen to what the manager tells them - and accept it without checking with the guys (snd girls) who actually do it 'on the ground'.


    So listen, ask questions and observe reality. Then you might understand.  If you understand, you have the chance to improve.


  • 19 Jan 2018 3:47 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    India's economic performance over the last 15 years has been exceptional - matched only by China.


    But history is not what matters - how is India going to maintain, or even increase- growth over the next 10-15 years.


    Well, it currently performs well in quite a few areas - but not in innovation. its  R & D spend is low - it does not have great technology transfer from academia, and though it has a highly educated workforce, its record on skills development is also poor.


    India needs fewer MBAs and more technicians.  The problem is that everyone wants an MBA - and everyone's Mom & Dad wants their child to have an MBA.  India thus needs a shift in education and training policy - but this has to be matched with a shift in culture - so that high level technical skills are valued and coveted.


  • 12 Jan 2018 10:15 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Supercar manufacturer McClaren is to create almost 200 jobs in South Yorkshire, UK manufacturing chassis which are currently made in Europe and sent to the UK to form the basis of the assembly process.  Why did McClaren choose South Yorkshire?  Because South Yorkshire (and Sheffield in particular) has a history of investing in Advanced Manufacturing techniques and skills.


    My colleague Tom Tuttle, a board member of the World Confederation of Productivity Science, in his recent book looked at the reasons why some areas in America were more successful in securing inward investment than others - and one key point to emerge was that manufacturers take factories (and jobs) to where the skills are.


    So Sheffield snd South Yorkshire are getting a return on their investment and securing a manufacturing future for the region.


    It is good to see their long-term commitment bearing fruit.


  • 05 Jan 2018 12:21 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Australia's Productivity commission has slated the public sector for its poor productivity. Yet when you read the report what it is really saying is that the public sector, unlike the private sector, fails to measure productivity - and therefore is unable to know whether it is moving in the right direction.


    This seems a little harsh.


    How does the Australian public sector compare to the US, the UK, Canada or Denmark?


    I don't know - but I suspect neither does the Productivity Commission.  Making conclusions on the basis of insufficient information is not what we expect f®om a body charged with promoting productivity.


    So give the public sector a chance. Give them some targets to achieve - and chastise them if they fail to meet them.  But don't criticise them for not achieving unknown targets.


  • 29 Dec 2017 6:42 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We are about to enter a New Year.  Many people at this time make resolutions (personal promises) to change some aspect of their behaviour - like giving up drinking alcohol, going on a diet, managing their temper better, or whatever.


    I suggest that instead of concentrating on the personal, you go external and think about the behaviours you can change in those around you.


    Though the focus becomes external, almost certainly the only way you can change the behaviours of those around you is to modify your own behaviour first.  This teaches an important lesson about building, developing and improving interpersonal relationships. How people treat you and deal with you depends on how you treat them and deal with them.  The most important thing you can do is to listen - actively listen - to what they are telling you ... and add vision, to see what their body language is adding to what they say.


    Active listening is an important but under-used skill. It needs practice. 


    Start on January 1st and you might have it mastered in a short time. You will then understand and respond more effectively.  If you do, you will be a better manager, leader and productivity improver.


    That must be worth a try - and a little effort.


    Good luck!


  • 22 Dec 2017 3:26 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Data over the last decade suggests that labour productivity has been rising in developed countries but overall (or multi-factor) productivity has declined.


    This means that people are working harder but 'the system' is letting them down.


    We have been saying for 50 years that organisations need to work smarter, not harder.


    Now is the time for companies  to invest in new technology, up-to-date equipment and machinery (including the Internet of Things) - and (especially) in skills for the workforce.


    If enough do it, we might have a 'smart revolution' - and rising productivity at last.


  • 15 Dec 2017 8:26 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    When nations establish productivity campaigns and initiatives, one feature is often financial support for companies (snd perhaps  universities and support agencies).


    Firms are encouraged to apply for grant funding for additional resources or for specific support (for advice and consultancy, for example).


    Some firms are obviously successful - and some are not.


    The problem with such an approach is twofold.


    Firstly, it encourages firms to become good at applying for grants - rather than being good at their core competencies.  Firms learn how to play this new game.


    Secondly, it can help 'shore up' poorly performing firms - which does little for longer-term national productivity.


    So, my recommendation is - don't do it .By all means (I would encourage you to) have a productivity campaign - but don't make grant funding central to it.




  • 08 Dec 2017 7:14 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Sometimes you hear or see something which really surprises you - and makes you think hard about your existing frame of reference.  Take this which I heard on the radio the other day...


    A scientist who takes his inspiration for new inventions/innovations from the animal world (sorry, I can't recall his name) suggested that the received wisdom about the wheel being the greatest ever invention was fundamentally flawed.  The result he suggested of this flaw is that we have spent fortunes paving the world.  If we hadn't invented the wheel but had spent our time developing transport that could cope with uneven ground (as animals can), we would have saved all that investment - and had much more flexible transport systems.


    What other received wisdom has similar 'flaws?  How can we unlearn and undevelop in ways that will create higher productivity?



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