Saturday, 31 March 2012

Pragmatic, not dogmatic

I saw a recent press report on one of China's new eco-cities.

There are quite a few eco-cities around the world - trying out technologies and techniques to improve sustainability.

What was so good about this one is that it was rather low-tech .... it didn't rely on slavish adherence to rules and regimens by the people ... but it was making a difference.

It was pragmatic, rather than dogmatic ... realising that people are flawed and inherently selfish ... they want to 'do their bit' but they want to enjoy life too.

So, one up for the Chinese! Moving in the right direction ... but moving at a sensible pace.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Who does it?

I'm an old school productivity guy (though I hope I've kept up to date).

I grew up with techniques like Method Study and its critical examination where you ask a range questions such as "What is achieved?", "Why?" ... then go on to ask "When it is done?", "Where is to done?". "Who does it?" and "How is it done" so that you understand what is happening before you jump in and look for improvements.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read a report that the Phoenix (Arizona) fire service could save £1.4m annually by outsourcing a range of activities to civilian personnel.

This is what is meant by the Method Study  questions "Who does it?" "Why that person/group?"  "Who else could do it?" "Who should do it?"

These are always good questions to ask.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Does the UK have the right jobs?

The UK - like most Western countries - is desperate to create more jobs. However, many of the jobs that are created are low value, part-time, service jobs. What the UK needs is more manufacturing.

Does it matter?

Yes, it does. The multiplier effect of manufacturing jobs - creating more jobs throughout the supply chain - is far greater. The recent announcement of a new Nissan model for their Sunderland factory is excellent news .. this will ripple through and create many more jobs.

So, the government should be doing all it can to encourage manufacturers - existing ones and new ones.

(And I,haven't even mentioned that the once 'darling' financial services sector is the one that got us into this mess in the first place.)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bill foots the bill

Bill Gates is continuing his commitment to improving the productivity of smallholder farmers by making available nearly $200m in grants for projects aimed at helping the farmers. He called on the big UN food agencies to work together to create a global productivity target for small farmers. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has committed more than $2bn to smallholder farmers since 2006, and this latest amount will be reinvested in projects covering new varieties of drought-tolerant maize, vaccines for livestock and training for agro-dealers to equip and train farmers. "If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture," Gates told the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) in Rome recently. "Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, co-ordinated, and focused to help poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering and build self-sufficiency." Gates urged Ifad, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to commit to a concrete, measurable target for increasing agricultural productivity. He also called on them to support a system of public score cards in the interests of transparency for themselves, donors, and the countries they support. "The goal is to move from examples of success to sustainable productivity increases to hundreds of millions of people moving out of poverty," said Gates.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A few simple rules

Most workplaces have rules ... but often these are 'conventions, unwritten but largely abided by.

This is OK until someone decides to break those conventions.

Unless the rules are codified, it becomes very difficult to enforce them. (Think about public establishments that have a dress code of 'smart casual' ... who defines smart ... or casual for that matter.)

So it is worth writing down the rules - what do employees do with their coats when they arrive, can they eat and/or drink at their workstation, what should happen at break times, when can those breaks be taken .. and so on.

It will make the organisation more productive if people know how they should behave under a range of circumstances. 

There is no need to be heavy-handed with this ... just issue a 'reminder' of the already-established rules - for everyone's safety, convenience and efficiency.