Saturday, 26 March 2011

Unintended consequences

Those of us with experience realise that most decisions have both intended and unintended consequences. .. more so, if decisions are made in haste or on incomplete or imperfect information.

Here is an example. The British government has recently introduced measures to curb the influx of immigrants into the UK.

This has been largely welcomed ... but not by many employers.

Curiously, in a situation mirrored in lots of other countries, unemployment is rising but employers cannot fill vacancies.

(There can be many reasons for this, of course ... workers in the wrong places, with the wrong skills, unwilling to work, etc.)

Of course this wasn't meant to happen. It is an unintended consequence of a fairly hasty political decision.

Let's hope those members of society who welcomed the curb on immigration, don't see the effects on the economy hurting their own pockets.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

What are the measurement units?

The productivity ratio has 2 components (as do all ratios, of course). Sometimes we forget to think about the units of the denominator.

If you have cattle, you might look at their productivity in terms of quantity of milk produced per animal.

But if your most expensive resource is land (as it is for many farmers) then the yield per hectare is more important. So, you might be more efficient with a lower yield per animal but more animals grazing the same area.

So, next time you see a productivity ratio, give a little thought to the units ... and whether changing them would change priorities.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Purposed Identity

Jamaica's Education Minister Andrew Holness has identified what he described as "a lack of purposed identity" as a key problem for the country.

"In a productive society, everyone is able to define themselves by what they do and what they know," Holness said recently, as he launched the National Career Development Awareness Week at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

Addressing students and educators, Holness emphasised the correlation between professional identity and productivity.

"Poverty is driven by a lack of knowledge, and the solution to poverty is dependent on the ability to have productive skill," he suggested.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Budget cuts focus the mind

It is amazing how legislation and budget cuts focus the mind.

Two bills proposed by Senate leaders in Texas recently aim to distinguish prevention-based health care from the current state of "sick care."

The content of these bills has been discussed for years ... but they are only coming into force now because of federal health care reform.

The goal is "to cut waste, fraud, and abuse" and "reward providers who are efficient and who are achieving healthy outcomes for their patients," said Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) in a press conference in February.

Perhaps this is a tactic we should use more often to shake up thinking - change the rules and change the budget. People start to think - and then behave - differently.