Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Flying High

I am flying home today after two and a half weeks on a UNIDO looking at the Fisheries sector in Indonesia. Hopefully, the work has ben helpful in identifying the major constraints holding back further export potential ... and identifying opportunities for interventions that should remove or work round these constraints.

Having presented our findings at a final workshop, we are now awaiting specific project ideas in the intervention areas we have identified. We want these ideas to come from the Indonesian government and from Indonesian industry themselves... so there is strong ownership. We will then on subsequent visits work on the feasibility of, and the potential impact of, these ideas before arriving at a final Technical Assistance Programme - hopefully around Jan/Feb 2009 - which should, when implemented, make a real difference.

It has been a rewarding - though tough - experience. Now I need a rest!

Friday, 25 July 2008

The model grows

The Economic Impact Model (see previous posting) is growing - almost with a life of its own. There are continual trade-offs and decisions to be made such as ... is old - but real - data better than a current, informed judgement? (This itself is an informed (hopefully) judgement.

We are not interested in building a model that wins prizes for accuracy or authenticity ... but one that helps us work out the impact of various intervention strategies.

However, we have already found it does more than that ... it helps identify potential interventions ... or at lest the collection of data and the building of the model does. For example, in the Indonesian fisheries sector we are looking at, much attention is focussed on moving into 'value added', further processed and packaged, higher price products. But the model says that a very (very) small quality improvement in unprocessed tuna might make the most difference because a very small increase in price is multiplied by very large volumes.

So perhaps we should simply be looking at how tuna is caught, handled and landed (and refrigerated) .... and forget sophisticated (and expensive) packaging / branding / marketing exercises ... even though some of our stakeholders think this is the salvation!

Remember, often evidence is ignored in favour of prevailing prejudice (or perhaps 'gut instinct'). I might return to this theme later.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Economic Impact

As part of this current project in Indonesia, a colleague and I are trying to build an Economic Impact Assessment model so that we can try and predict the likely effects on trade and on employment of interventions we might suggest to improve the Indonesian Fisheries sector (which is why we are here).

Building such a model involves the collection of a lot of economic and socio-economic data and then trying to work out linkages and inter-relationships (especially causal ones!).

It is hard work - and sometimes my brain hurts!! - but i recommend it as a way of getting a deep understanding of an industry or sector. I now have a pretty good idea of how fishing (and associated processing and logistics) works here .... and I am starting to understand how things we might think of doing will harmonise (or not) with government policy or will affect the employment of fishermen on remote islands (and their families) and so on. It certainly makes one aware of wider responsibilities - to the various stakeholders with an interest in what we are doing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

While the cat's away ....

I am in Indonesia on business.... but, of course, if you read this blog regularly, you will know this. Whilst away from home and from normal reference points, I find it a good time to think either innovatively or reflectively ... or occasionally both.

Because I have been dealing with many government officials, I have been reflecting on the nature of bureaucracy ... though I should - in their defence - stress that some of those I have met have been far from bureaucratic.

It seems that if you reward those who have big departments and run many projects, you will incentivise people to grow their department and grow the number of projects they run .... and unfortunately this seems often to be irrespective of the outputs of that department and the outcomes of those projects.

But then again, we know - don't we - that you get what you measure not what you want!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Tardy postings

I am off to Indonesia tomorrow working with UNIDO to help look at the value chain for the Indonesian Seafood Industry ... what can be done to add additional value ... and where any initial focus should be.

I hope to be in full communication contact ... but I also expect to be very busy ... so if postings are a bit late ... please forgive me.

Friday, 4 July 2008

World Productivity Congress

The World Confederation of Productivity Science, of which I am president, organises this Congress - with the help of a local host organisation - in this case ProductivitySA since the Congress is in Sun City, South Africa in September 2008 (21st - 24th).

If interested, go to www.worldproductivitycongress.com

or first take a look at the PowerPoint presentation which covers the main points. this is at ...