Saturday, 18 March 2017

Micromanaging

Lots of management texts and courses tell us about the details of planning, organising and managing.  One problem is that managers can tend to think that they themselves have to immerse themselves in the detail.  They become micromanagers, obsessed about small steps and detail - instead of concentrating on the big picture and trusting others 'down the chain' to worry about detail. 
Employees see this as a lack of trust - and can often even see the manager doing their job for them.  Naturally, they turn off and disengage
Nobody likes to be micromanaged. So, don’t do it.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Productivity vs Efficiency

These two terms are often used interchangeably - but they are different.  Here I am not concerned with technical differences - but with philosophical or attitudinal differences.

Organisations that pride themselves on being efficient usually strive to achieve the same performance with fewer resources - doing the same with less.

Conversely, organisations that aim to be highly productive usually strive to do more with the same resources -doing more with the same.  They concentrate on the 'top line' (of the productivity ratio) - and the 'bottom line' takes care of itself.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

Brexit (briefly) re-visited.

No-one is quite sure why the UK voted to leave the EU - but a recent study into the habits of 500 SMEs (small and medium enterprises), commissioned by online printing company instantprint, revealed that dealing with HR compliance forms, pension paperwork and health and safety regulations eats up an average of ten hours of the working week.

These companies took so long complying with regulation that they had  little or no time to focus on business growth.

This is not a recipe for success - and may be a small contributing factor to the Brexit vote.

Certainly we have to hope that Mrs May and her government will be looking to reduce the burden of bureaucracy as the UK leaves the EU.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

India's soft success

India is held up as the latest 'economic miracle' - transforming its economy over the last 20 years.  It is often suggested that success is down to 'hard' factors - such as technical ability, capital investment - and, of course, cheap labour.

But India has recognised the importance of 'softer' skills ands factors - such as teamwork, problem-solving and communication.  Young Indians are receptive to modern approaches to organising and managing a workforce and respond positively.

In fact, a study by the University of Michigan, on female garment workers (in Bangalore)  showed that providing training in soft skills raised productivity by 12%.

Sometimes, simple approaches are the best.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

AI can help

I talked last week about AI - posing the question whether this is the next big technological driver of productivity improvement.

Some people are really worried about AI - and its effects on jobs, suggesting that most jobs in time can and will be replaced by some form of automation.

However, before that happens we are likely to hit a 'sweet spot' where automation/robots/AI assist human work  his will allow work which is not possible now.  the winners will be those that can spot the opportunities and create products and services that rely on these new forms of thinking and movement for their execution.

So the future is not bleak - as with most technology, it is full of exciting opportunities.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The next big thing

Technological innovation can drive massive productivity gains - but it is some time since we have had innovations of the size of those in the 1970s and 1980s - when the PC first hit desktops - and 'productivity software' followed.

Now industry waits for the next major impetus  - and governments hope we might get something of such magnitude that it helps solve the great 'productivity puzzle' (whereby productivity growth stubbornly refuses to match pre-economic crisis levels.

Is Artificial Intelligence the answer?  AI is being trumpeted as the next big thing - and †he big tech players are investing millions.

Yet, so far, we see better ways to play our music or switch between apps - but nothing significant in the apps themselves ... or - even more important - new forms of app.

These might come, of course.  Technological revolutions do not happen overnight.

Certainly, at the moment, AI seems to be the only contender for 'the next big, technological productivity driver'.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Not R&D

The world needs to improve productivity - if we are to raise living standards, feed the world and avoid water and fuel shortages. Yet, governments seem unable to do this - productivity has been at best sluggish over the last 10 years.

Some governments - rightly - see a link between innovation and productivity - but then they go too far in thinking that increased R&D spending will improve innovation.

innovation is not invention - innovation is more concerned with identifying new uses for today's (and even yesterday's) technologies.

So ,yes, we need to improve innovation .
But no, R&D spending is not the way to do it.

I am not advocating spending less on R&D - invention is also important - but we need to look more at how we create the conditions in which people think differently - education, training, induction, empowerment - some of these are government responsibilities, others are for the private sector to work on.