Saturday, 14 October 2017

In 1940, one farmer supplied about 11 people with food for the year. Changes over time -especially in technology - mean that today the average farmer in the United States supplies 155 people with food for the year.

How many industries can match that kind of productivity growth? 

But history is not important.

A more important question is ...Where will you find your next phase of growth?

Where are the equivalent of your new pesticides, automation, crop systems, etc.

You might not have to feed the world - but your productivity growth is important to you - and to the nation.

You certainly need new ideas.  Start thinking NOW!


Saturday, 7 October 2017

No thingy for me

'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.

After all, this blog is called 'Do Not Complicate' - so I'll keep it old school and simple.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Has your open plan office had its day?

(If you don't have one, you don't have to read this.)

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.

You  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.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

If the government won't, you must!

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.

And, you - please relook at your own strategy. we might need to build from the bottom up if the government doesn't sort its own prioirities.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

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 g=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.

But remember - these figures are bot 'real' - so invest away, regardless of whether you distort the national productivity figures and the national standing in international tables.  Your job is to boost real productivity - and if automation does that, good luck to you.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

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'.

Of course, you might not be bothered about this - feeling low wages simply helps your business

But national wage levels are important - wages create money that circulares in the economy - and may buy your goods or services.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Power of Benchmarking

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 gains a significant productivity increase.

If the government is not doing it, you have to find ways of doing it for yourself.  There are a number of employer organisations and benchmarking 'clubs' that will help you share data with your peers to create sector benchmarks.

EvanCarmichael.com