Saturday, 30 July 2016

Leaning from the best?

Some countries are much more productive than others.

One would assume that this gives the less productive countries lots of scope to learn what works and what doesn't - and boost their own productivity ... but this doesn't seem to be the case.

This suggests that either those countries are not trying to learn the lessons ... or that the lessons and good practice are not easily transferrable from one country to another.

I find either of those difficult to accept.

(This is one reason that I regularly help organise the World Productivity Congress - the next one is in Bahrain in November, see  

Of course different climates, traditions, cultures and so on make a difference - but there are enough similarities between the ways in which the leading nations organise themselves to suggest there are generic lessons to be learned.

Perhaps politicians are the wrong people to learn them!

On the other hand when you benchmark your performance against similar organisations, you do learn, don't you?

After all, if others can do it, why can't you?

Saturday, 23 July 2016


As i write this, Donald Trump has just accepted the nomination as Republican candidate for the US presidency.
Now Trump is certainly a controversial figure and i am not going to give my  view on his suitability to be president - if for no other reason that, here from the U K, making any judgement is difficult
I am though interested in whether he will have any effect on US productivity - positive or negative.
He seems to appeal to a disaffected and disillusioned working class.
If they feel they are are at last being listened to, will they respond with greater engagement, greater enthusiasm for their work roles - ands greater productivity. Or will they soon find they have been sold a false promise and be 'turned off''.
Of course all of this assumes he is elected - and that is far from certain.
I will be watching with interest - as will most of the world!
So, remember to be careful what you promise - to your employees, your customers and other stakeholders.  Promises can come back and bite you.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Scale up and win

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI)together with Lloyds Banking Group, the ScaleUp Institute & Aston Business School, has launched a new report, Lifting the Trophy, profiling scale-up insights into raising productivity within firms.
  • In 2013, 4% of firms contributed 17% to total UK productivity
  • Between 2012 – 2015, over 18,500 businesses rapidly scaled-up their turnover – 650 of these were mid-market firms
  • Within the scale-up community, highly productive firms are twice as common
  • 8 out of 10 of the UK’s most productive businesses are located outside London
For more details, see

So, firms that grow quickly also tend to grow their productivity - a double-whammy.  

What are you waiting for?

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Friday Freedom

Many people are not at their most productive on Friday afternoons. They procrastinate, prolong and prevaricate - picking issues up on Monday when they are (hopefully) refreshed and revitalised.

So, why not use this fact to your advantage.

Give your staff Friday freedom. Not the freedom to take time off - but the freedom to be non-productive: the freedom to 'play', explore, investigate. 

Get them to investigate:
  • What is happening to the market, to technology, to competitors, to suppliers, to society or subsets of it? 
  • How can your company exploit any of these changes?

They will learn stuff to your advantage - and to theirs.  They will become better informed, better skilled employees - and almost certainly more engaged, more loyal, more satisfied employees.

You might lose a little in the short term but gain a lot in the longer term.

Of course this doesn't work for all types of employee/role so you have to choose who you give such freedom to.  And to be 'fair' (ands be seen to be fair), you may have to select other freedoms to give to other employees.

But freedom is a valuable commodity - use it to create value for your organisation.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Not Goodbye

The UK public has voted to leave the EU.  There are numerous reasons given - but they don't matter anymore ... except inso far as the EU learns what the public don't like about the EU and attempts to reform itself.

What matters for the UK is what happens now to the EU economy - and to UK productivity.

The answer, of course, is that no-one knows.

Generally speaking, lowering trade barriers helps improve an economy - so any move to create barriers between the EU and the UK could harm the UK economy - but would possibly have more impact on the EU economy.

Surely sense will prevail - and a new trade deal will be negotiated quickly.  Any attempt by the UE to 'punish' the UK would be disastrous for both sides.

And remember, we haven't left Europe ... just the EU.  I am proud to be European ... but i had my misgivings about an unaccountable organisation whose accounts have not been signed off for many years.

So, this is not goodbye.  Our relationship has changed - but we're still here, just over the Channel, ready to trade.

If you are a UK entrepreneur or business person, as part of that potential trade, your job is to make sure your  business remains competitive - and helps the UK through what might be a 'sticky patch'.