Saturday, 27 February 2010

People care about productiivty

The Singapore government delivered a new budget last week - and made several references to the need to improve productivity ... and raised several means of doing just that. The government runs a feedback web portal called REACH and in the 5 days following the budget there were 21,000 page views and over 200 comments and suggestions.

Most were generally complimentary but a few expressed disappointment that there were no new incentives for individuals such as targeted tax rebates and reliefs.

The interesting, and important, thing from my point of view is that citizens will engage - constructively - given the chance.

Monday, 22 February 2010

World Cafe

I came across something today which I haven't heard of before - the World Cafe process ... a process aimed at involving people in discussion of ideas and issues and in a relatively short timeframe, arriving at conclusions. It is a process that can be used as a form of 'larger-scale brainstorming' as part of a wider innovation process.

Like many ideas it is an extension of earlier forms of similar process ... but with a new 'twist' that makes it sounds interesting.


Friday, 19 February 2010

Read the figures carefully

US productivity figures for the last quarter of 2009 look great ... but typically at the end of a recession, output grows before hiring does. This corrects itself and productivity takes an apprarent nosedive soon after. This is where the US is now.

Critics will say that Obama is not in control and is letting the recovery falter ... but it is just the way of the world. If output is still going up (and it will be) then the productivity figures will catch up.

So why measure productivity? Because over the longer-term it is a much more reliable measure of well-being - and future well- being - than simply measuring output. After all we all know that you can make lots of stuff and make no money.

So we have to accept the imperfections of measurement and filter the numbers through our common sense. Now if only journalists and politicians would do the same!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Productivity drives decision-making

Jim McNerney, chairman, president and chief executive of Boeing announced last week that the company will decide this year whether to add new engines to the existing design for the 737, which could be ready for customers by mid-decade, or to design an all-new plane ... which would not be ready till much later.

The decision will be taken on productivity grounds .. .what are the relative productivity improvements offered by the alternative strategies.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Long Game

The U.S. has lost more than 7 million jobs in the past two years. This means that 200,000 net new jobs would have to be created each month for the next seven years to get unemployment back to the (normal) 5%. I hope someone is planning a long game and not 'knee-jerk' policies that might sound good to voters.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Productivity or Jobs

A recent letter to the Denver Post complained about $200k of 'stimulus money' being spent on road signs. The response was to suggest that the letter-writer did not understand stimulus spending (what an intelligent defence!). But it also - in the context of climbing out of the recession - leads to the old question about whether productivity creates jobs or kills jobs.

Of course in the short term it can do either ... but in the longer term it creates many more jobs than it might kill. Try decreasing productivity, see how competitive you become and see how many jobs you save.