Saturday, 27 January 2018

I often say that I have built my career on asking stupid questions. Improving productivity is all about asking questions.  Why do we do it like that?  Who is responsible for this?  Why do it that way? Where should this be done?  Why do we do this at all?

However, I have come to realise that asking questions is not the answer.  The real secret is listening to the answers you are given and sorting out the valid answers from the questionable.  In lean terms it is also necessary to 'go to Gemba' - find out for yourself what is happening.  Observe as well as listen.

None of this is difficult.  But is is amazing how many people don't do it.  They listen to what the manager tells them - and accept it without checking with the guys (snd girls) who actually do it 'on the ground'. In your case, don't take what your senior and middle managers tell you - check for yourself on the floor.

So listen, ask questions and observe reality. Then you might understand.  If you understand, you have the chance to improve.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Australia's Productivity commission has slated the public sector for its poor productivity. Yet when you read the report what it is really saying is that the public sector, unlike the private sector, fails to measure productivity - and therefore is unable to know whether it is moving in the right direction.

This seems a little harsh.

How does the Australian public sector compare to the US, the UK, Canada or Denmark?

I don't know - but I suspect neither does the Productivity Commission.  Making conclusions on the basis of insufficient information is not what we expect form a body charged with promoting productivity.

So give the public sector a chance. Give them some targets to achieve - and chastise them if they fail to meet them.  But don't criticise them for not achieving unknown targets.

Similarly, in your business, set targets on the basis of sound information - and then hold people to account for those targets.

But holding people to account for targets which don't exist - or are 'built on straw' is simply not fair.