Saturday, 29 November 2014

Take it easy

This blog is concerned with the effectiveness of small businesses. Rarely do we 'stray into' personal productivity - largely because I think it is more or less irrelevant in terms of raising those other productivities - they are based on the effectiveness and productivity of processes and systems - not individual people,.

However, I read recently that an air passenger - on a  plane with a new WiFi service - had been landed a hefty bill (over $1500) for what he thought was fairly modest usage.  It set me thinking about 'strategies' to use that travel time to good effect.

Of course there are the 'air warriors' who reach for their laptop 5 minutes after takeoff and clatter away for the rest of the flight.

Not me!  I use the time for .... thinking, .... even daydreaming.  I find such quality, free time very rare - but it is a precious resource and shouldn't be wasted on menial e-tasks such as email, spreadsheeting or the like.

So think before you take your laptop out - then put it away and continue thinking.  It will pay dividends.

If this still sounds too much like 'work', try ... resting.  That also pays dividends.

Saturday, 22 November 2014


When should you take major decisions? Make major investments?

There are 2 answers.

1.  When you are prepared.  When you have the information t=you need to take informed, rational decisions.

2.  Now!

Though you do need to be informed, sometimes you can wait too long or over-prepare. These 2 factors need to be balanced.

So, think about why you shouldn't make a decision or an investment - and ask yourself if that reason is sufficiently strong to stop you seizing an opportunity.  The default is 'Do it now' - only hesitate if there is some clear and present reason to do so.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Be careful what you judge

I was in Italy recently ... and I used public transport quite a bit - trains and buses.  All the journeys I made were on time, and to schedule.

Of course, public transport is subsidised in most European countries - by governments as part of the national infrastructure.   This set me thinking about the nature of 'productivity' at this national, overarching level.

For example, the national railway could be 'inefficient' but could contribute to productivity in other sectors (by moving goods and people efficiently to/from factories and workplaces).

Similarly, in your own company, you must not take decisions that are sub-optimal - that look to be 'right' in a smaller context, but might be 'wrong' when looking at a 'bigger picture'.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Do things differently

At the end of your next working day (are there any other kind?)  ask yourself ... "If we carry on working like this on these tasks, how will we be different - and better - in 5 years time?"

If you cannot answer that, you need to do some things differently - or some additional things. Otherwise nothing is driving change.

Organisations that stay the same get overtaken.  The best organisations have a continual programme of review, change and improvement - making incremental (and occasionally large) improvements to processes, systems and tasks - and to the skills of their people.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Productivity or Quality

I have been in discussions many times with businessmen and advisers about whether firms should concentrate on their productivity or their quality - which has the biggest impact on success.

Of course the quick answer is "Both" - they are not mutually exclusive!

But I remember listening to my colleague Tor Dahl who used to suggest that productivity initiatives release energy and innovation (they unfreeze the organisation); quality initiatives standardise systems and processes to 'lock in' quality (and they freeze the organisation).  Another way of putting it is that quality initiatives help cement the gains realised by a productivity initiative.

So, we do need them both - but not necessarily sat the same time.  There seems to be a natural sequence of productivity-quality-productivity-quality.