Saturday, 18 November 2017

Skill up!

The UK's productivity performance - as reported by the Office for National Statistics and used in international performance tables- has been woeful recently.  I know I have argued in the past that the measurement scheme seems inherently flawed but that is irrelevant to today's argument.

There seems a consensus emerging that the figures are so bad - and have been for so long - that the problem is insoluble.  Certainly no-one seems  to have come up with a plan to address the situation.

I know there is no magic bullet - no quick and easy fix .... but we can tackle the issue by making sure we take a holistic approach in which government does what it can (with infrastructure and skills), organisations do what they can (with long-term investment, improvement programmes and skills), unions do what they can (with constructive partnerships and skills) and education/training does what it can (with targeted knowledge and skills).

You can probably see a theme emerging here.  We need a high skill, multi-skill workforce.  We don't currently have one.  We perhaps need a lesser focus on knowledge (more easily provided in a high-tech, AI world) and a greater one on competence and flexibility.  If we invest in a high skill workforce, everyone benefits - the individuals with the skills, companies who need the skilled workforce - and the nation with higher productivity.

Perhaps after all, there is a magic bullet!  Go get your gun.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Learning from education

Some universities and colleges in the US are now being funded according to a productivity-based formula. Does this make sense?

What is the productivity of a university? how is it measured?  Number of degrees per $1,000 of investment?

Get it wrong - and universities will play the measurement game - making the figures move in the direction which benefits them financially even if this is not the most appropriate measure.

This is not to suggests that productivity is not important - after all universities are spending public money - and should be held accountable for it.

But if we get the measure wrong - we get the wrong result. Universities might benefit - but society won't.  So we need a good, healthy debate on what the measure - or measures - should be.

The same is true in your business.  If you measure the wrong things, you get the wrong behaviours - and the wrong results. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

You are not Africa

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.

Expecting others to supply the thinking and the resources is a recipe for little progress.

The same is true of your business.  Though you might get help (at a price) from consultants or aid agencies, in the end it is your own commitment to progress and new ideas that will make the difference.  African governments must heed this lesson but so must you!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

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 in your business. You know it makes sense!

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.
EvanCarmichael.com