Saturday, 26 November 2011

No sex please, we are productivity experts

In the UK, a man was recently reported by his girlfriend for secretly filming their sex sessions.

His 'explanation' was that he was a 'time and motion expert' and was undertaking research.

 It shows my 'take' on the subject by the fact that what amazed me was the use of the term 'time and motion' ... a term I haven't heard used for many years.

 This profession of ours has been through many job titles ... and sometimes with some justification.

The term 'work study' was the wrong term when one realises that, often, the most important thing to look at is the 'non-work. It is generally 'systems', processes and procedures that are 'inefficient', not workers.

So, now we end up with industrial engineers and lean practitioners ... with slightly different toolsets ... but with the same general approach. The secret is to ask enough questions until you uncover and understand the 'truth' .. and then to start improving it.

Generally the people skills are much more important than the technical skills.

 So, call me what you want. I'm still going to have fun doing what I do.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Governments keep out!

Governments do have a role to play in improving national productivity.

But it is all about policy, infrastructure and direction. What governments must not do is 'meddle' at operational levels.

This was brought home to me (once more) by a recent report that the Nigerian Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji directed the management of the 18 successor companies, created out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to start paying staff a 50 per cent salary increase effective from September, 2011.

In a memo to the Chief Executive Officers of the successor companies, the minister indicated that the Federal Government had agreed to pay the outstanding first three months of the new salary package which took effect from June 2011.

Now if there were a rational economic reason for this directive, it could perhaps be understood.

But it actually goes counter to earlier comments expressed by the same government a week earlier when they expressed dissatisfaction with the productivity of the PHCN workers, saying they generate less than half of their wage bill.

Of course, these successors companies are supposed to be independent, private companies with supposed liberty to formulate their own wage structures — based on fairness and productivity of staff.

But the government has crippled their decision-making ... and their future productivity.

So, my advice to other governments is ... do what you need to do at the macro level ... and you do need to do it ... then get out of the way.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Who knows?

I suspect that few people in the UK are aware that an energy act came into law recently which aims to boost energy efficiency in residential homes.

More than half of homes have insufficient insulation, and around 50 percent more energy is used to heat and power homes than is used to power industry, according to the Department for Energy & Climate Change.

"It is vital, therefore, that action is taken to address home energy efficiency," the department said.

"The coalition is doing all it can to bear down on energy prices, but insulation will provide the long-term help to manage bills," energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne said.

DECC also said that the energy act would set in stone the legal framework for the 'Green Deal', which will be launched in autumn next year. "The Green Deal will . help people insulate against rising energy prices, creating homes which are warmer and cheaper to run," DECC said.

Climate change minister Greg Barker said that the Green Deal is "expected to attract capital investment of up to 15 billion pounds in the residential sector alone by the end of this decade and at its peak support around 250,000 jobs." The key elements to the energy act will remove the upfront cost of energy efficiency measures (like loft, cavity and external wall insulation, draught proofing and energy efficiency glazing and boilers) making expensive home improvement affordable. DECC said that the energy saving work will be repaid over time through a charge on the home's energy bill.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Roosting chickens

The typical American family now earns what it did in 1996 allowing for inflation - yet they have more/bigger cars, more/longer holidays, more/better technology .... because they borrowed on their assets (mainly their home).

The same is true across the western world.

 The result?

The current economic crisis as the 'chickens have come home to roost.

We can't spend money we don't earn (as individuals or as nations) and expect it to go on for ever. I bet your mum and dad told you that. Pity your government - and your bank - didn't!