Saturday, 27 January 2018

Listen ....

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'.

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

Saturday, 20 January 2018

More to come from India?

India's economic performance over the last 15 years has been exceptional - matched only by China.

But history is not what matters - how is India going to maintain, or even increase- growth over the next 10-15 years.

Well, it currently performs well in quite a few areas - but not in innovation. its  R&D spend is low - it does not have great technology transfer from academia, and though it has a highly educated workforce, its record on skills development is also poor.

India needs fewer MBAs and more technicians.  The problem is that everyone wants an MBA - and everyone's Mom & Dad wants their child to have an MBA.  India thus needs a shift in education and training policy - but this has to be matched with a shift in culture - so that high level technical skills are valued and coveted.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Growth goes where the skills are

Supercar manufacturer McClaren is to create almost 200 jobs in South Yorkshire, UK manufacturing chassis which are currently made in Europe and sent to the UK to form the basis of the assembly process.  Why did McClaren choose South Yorkshire?  Because South Yorkshire (and Sheffield in particular) has a history of investing in Advanced Manufacturing techniques and skills.

My colleague Tom Tuttle, a board member of the World Confederation of Productivity Science, in his recent book looked at the reasons why some areas in America were more successful in securing inward investment than others - and one key point to emerge was that manufacturers take factories (and jobs) to where the skills are.

So Sheffield snd South Yorkshire are getting a return on their investment and securing a manufacturing future for the region.

It is good to see their long-term commitment bearing fruit.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Public sector unproductive?

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.