Saturday, 28 February 2015

If productivity is low, its your fault!

In small businesses low productivity is rarely the fault of the workers - it is because the owner/manager has not set up production processes properly -or has failed to manage them effectively.

Too many owner/managers want to micro-manage ... they see their job as 'keeping on top of things'.

It is - of course... but they must set up systems of production - and then measure the performance (of the system, not the people) - so that they know whether it is  effective - and improving.  This should not need hourly - or even daily intervention, especially if you have a good production supervisor.  Give them responsibility, authority - and if necessary, training ... and let them 'keep on top of things'.  Check with them weekly, or ask them for a regular report (brief and quantitative).

Make the system work - than you don't have to.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Productivity or Innovation?

There has been discussion on the Productivity Futures LinkedIn group this week discussing whether productivity and innovation are natural enemies or bedfellows.

Of course I chimed in - well, I can't resist - and my view is that real productivity development - revolutionary rather than evolutionary - is unlikely without innovation.  Innovation can transform productivity.

Tor Dahl reminded the group that productivity is about doing the right things in the right way 100% of the time.  Innovation can change what we do - and how we do it.  Systematic approaches to improvement - and the standardisation that goes with them - ensure we do the right things ALL the time.

Any of you who want to try to run your organisations without innovation please inform me - I want to stay clear of investing in you.  Innovation is the life blood of small businesses snd entrepreneurs - it is how they compete with the big boys.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

What's your job?

In large organisations, most people have a job title and a job description ...  they know what is expected of them

In small businesses, people often have a job title - but rarely a job description - in any meaningful sense.  In small businesses, we expect people to be flexible - to fulfil whatever role we need .. today.

This is OK but we sometimes take advantage of people.  We ask them - and expect them - to do things they are not trained or prepared to do.  We set them up to fail - and perhaps complain when they do.

So, look for flexibility - but be fair about it.  Think about what you are asking them to do - and whether it is reasonable.  And when people are reasonable - be thankful - and thank them for it.

Saturday, 7 February 2015


You probably know form pleasant - and bitter - experiences that teams are only sometimes more productive than the sum of their parts - because the 'chemistry' among the team is 'right'.

We've all seen such 'chemistry' at work - in working teams and in personal relationships.

But is it a lucky accident - or can we create it?

Team building is not about taking teams on outward-bound, adventure experiences .... or getting them together to discuss emotional issues.

It is about putting the right people together in the first place - understanding their abilities, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, sensibilities, and so on.  And about making sure they have the skills, the resources, the time and the support they need for the task in hand.... and making sure they share the overall vision for the outcomes of the task.

Your job is to build a team by understanding the task, understanding individuals ... and then taking the time to think about ways in which different individuals will fit with each other - or can be made to fit with each other.

Its not rocket science - but it certainly isn't a 'given' either.