Saturday, 30 July 2011

What constitutes national productivity infrastructure

The obvious elements of infrastructure required to underpin productivity growth are: a suitable macro-economic environment, good transport and telecoms links and high quality education and training. But there is more.

Take a look at this example.

World Bank experts have attributed Jamaica's perpetually disappointing economic performance to low productivity and suggest there are three major obstacles.

They estimate the country could achieve GDP growth of up to 5.4 per cent, but said that was predicated on the Government addressing and removing the constraints.

Low productivity, the bank argues, is ascribed to a high crime rate, deficient human capital primarily reflected in lack of adequate training for most of the labour force, and distortionary tax incentives combined with enclave development, manifested in the mining sector and all-inclusive resorts, that do not spill over to the rest of the economy.

Some of these fit within my first paragraph ... others don't. Its not always as simple as it first seems.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

We Want More ... but we will have to wait

Workers in most countries are 'feeling the pinch'. Prices are rising; wages are not.

Productivity must rise ... yet in many industries there is lower demand.

Governments do what they can to increase demand but their powers are limited.

The answer? There isn't one .. except to lay the foundation for a more productive future. Hold your nerve ... invest ... train.

Workers will have to wait for their pain to be eased .. but if we don't take this opportunity to reflect, regroup and prepare ... they will wait longer than they need ... and (y)our competitors will seize the opportunity because they have prepared.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Social media bad?

Lots of companies have Intranets - to share information.

May of these are firewalled and isolated from the Internet ... so that employees don't get distracted by Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and so on.

Yes, these social media have a part to play ... in improving communication, contact and commitment ... but perhaps we need 'walled gardens' of social media.

When Toronto law firm Hicks Morley started its own internal social network in 2008, it found that by adopting tools that mimic Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter within the confines of a corporate firewall that collaboration between employees increased dramatically, and productivity soared.

As the song says "It aint what you do, its the way that you do it. That's what gets results"!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Waste energy wasted no more

Engineers at Oregon State University are working on ways to capture and use the low-to-medium grade waste heat that’s now going out the exhaust pipe of millions of automobiles, diesel generators, or being wasted by factories and electrical utilities.

It hopes to be able to use much of the waste heat either in cooling or the production of electricity.

"This could become a very important new energy source and way to improve energy efficiency," said Hailei Wang, a research associate in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at OSU.

It is called a "thermally activated cooling system" that gains much of its efficiency by using extraordinarily small microchannels, which help to better meet the performance, size and weight challenges.

It effectively combines a vapour compression cycle with an "organic Rankine cycle," an existing energy conversion technology.

The OSU prototype succeeded in turning 80 per cent of every kilowatt of waste heat into a kilowatt of cooling capability.

It should also be possible for such systems to be used in hybrid automotive technology, taking waste heat from the gasoline engine and using it not only for air conditioning but also to help recharge the battery that powers the vehicle, explained Wang.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Was Malthus right ... and if he was ???

World population rises at a greater rate than agricultural production. This is the belief that gave rise to the thinking of Thomas Malthus.

If this is true ... and I suspect it is ... then we need some major innovation in terms of population control, agricultural productivity or ... politics?

Remember agricultural productivity has been rising inexorably over the last few hundred years ... but remember also that there is a fundamental difference between rising productivity and rising production. If productivity rises but we use less land and fewer people in the industry, we may not get an increase in output.

Remember also, the 2 things that slow down population growth are wealth and (especially female) education. The West - where both have increased substantially - has a much lower birth rate.

We need the politicians to learn these lessons and solve world problems through creating more wealth and spreading education ... surely its worth a try instead of dropping more bombs.