Saturday, 25 November 2017

We expect our staff to work hard and to do their best.  But what is 'best'. I would contend it is something to do with always being aware of the company's mission, vision and values ands always acting in furtherance of the mission and vision whilst acting in accordance with company values ... and wherever and whenever possible doing so pro-actively off their own initiative.

This, of course, begs the question - do your employees know, and understand the company's mission and vision - and are they aware of the core values you expect?  If my 'definition, is right, and they do not know these things, they cannot be expected to do their best.  If they don't, it is your fault, not theirs.

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!