Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Meet Me in St Louis

... or San Jose, Costa Rica actually. I fly there tomorrow for a Board meeting of the World Confederation of Productivity Science. Before you say something like ... "Couldn't you do it somewhere less exotic - or be videoconferencing" ... the answers could have been 'Yes' and 'Yes' but we are trying to meet a number of influential members of the Costa Rica political and economic community with a view to discussing some ideas about social productivity and wealth-creation.

That kind of discussion cannot be held by videoconference. Subsequent, follow-up discussions could perhaps .. but the first time you meet someone who you hope might form some sort of relationship or alliance with you, you need to see and 'feel' them ... to establish confidence and trust.

Or is that just old fogeys like me brought up on face-to-face contact. Would the Net2 generation need such contact?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Actions, not words

The State of Selangor in Malaysia is currently experiencing rising levels of inflation. The State government, recognising that this is not sustainable if Selangor wishes to move up the economic performance league table, has declared 2008 as a 'year of productivity'.

So far, so good. However, I have seen no evidence of what this means in practice. ... what are the priority areas, how will they help organisations raise productivity, what are they doing about infrastructure. (Note: these things MAY exist, I just haven't seen them.)

The lesson. Rhetoric is easy. Meaningful action is much harder. But rhetoric solves few problems!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Does IT help productivity?

This is a trick question. Korea has recently experienced high levels of productivity growth (manufacturing productivity rose approx 15% in the June-September 2007 period and continues to grow). This is not as a result of deploying IT but because the IT manufacturing industry is very important to South Korea and labour productivity in this industry rose 25% in that same June-September 2007 period.

The moral is .... Don't use IT, MAKE it.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Peeling away the truth

A recent comment in an Australian newspaper pointed out that 80% of Australia's trade is within Australia., only 20% being exported. This means that increased productivity is necessary for internal reasons rather than as an aid to international competitiveness.

Interesting that we sometimes forget about the obvious ... it may not matter if we take the right actions for the wrong reasons, but if we get the actions wrong on a wrong diagnosis, we are in trouble.

So, when someone says "We need to do this ...", take a step back and ask "Why?" and then ask... "By doing this, what are we not doing?" One or more 'truths' might emerge!

Monday, 7 January 2008

Hair today ... and tomorrow.

I read the following comment recently .....

Manufacturing industry has the scope for continuous productivity improvement. Service businesses have much less scope. Cutting hair and pouring beer take as long now as they did in the Sixties.

It would make an interesting examination question for students of productivity, wouldn't it. Simply give them the quote and ask them to outline a potential productivity strategy for a hair salon or bar.