Saturday, 29 September 2012

Its a Learning Problem

Behind many productivity problems is a learning problem. It is astonishing how often employees are poorly trained ... and in many cases, completely untrained, to do the job they are supposed to do.

We then blame 'poor performance' ... and of course it is poor performance ... on behalf of the management team who should have provided the training ... and refreshed the skills when necessary.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

What a State

In 2007, the state of Iowa in the USA hired Mike Rohlf, a black belt in Six Sigma, to apply 'Lean' to the various processes and procedures of state government.

Mike is still there ... appropriately as a 'one man band' (very lean). For each project, Mike works with volunteers from different areas within the agency in question, as well as 'correctives' - non-biased independents from an unrelated department.

They map what goes on ... and set about trying to improve on it. The state has carried out 180 such projects and is convinced of its success ... though this is difficult to measure because of the 'softer', qualitative improvements (like better service) that come alongside any cost savings.

One example - last year’s overhaul of the vocational rehabilitation office that assists with Social Security reimbursements is on pace to net about 20 percent more federal reimbursement money, or roughly $100,000 annually.

As ever, changes are often very simple ... in this case, moving from a paper to an electronic claims process.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Spend wisely

A recent report from IDC Manufacturing Insights suggests that the IT spend in Indian manufacturing organisations will double by 2016.

Will this give them a rise in productivity?

Almost certainly.  Not necessarily as a direct result .... but anyone making big investments in IT is likely to be looking at other aspects of the business.  Focusing on a business - for any reason - tends to show up what is wrong.

Of course Indian manufacturers could just expect IT to do their job for them. If they do, they will be very disappointed with the results.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Its the system, stupid!

I'm writing this in Pakistan ... whilst taking a look at some aspects of Pakistan's horticultural sector.

If you take a look at 'the figures' they suggest that this sector is quite 'inefficient', yet when I walk round  farms, farmers and their labourers are working very hard.

Of course - I hear you shout - these observations are not incompatible.  We should not confuse hard work with effectiveness. Often people have to work (over) hard because what they do is badly organised.  But don't blame the people .. blame 'the system' (and, especially, the lack of training).

Saturday, 1 September 2012

... and Jerk

Possibly too clever for my own good but I carried on the title of this post from the title of my last one.

How often have you felt like a jerk ... in your professional life I mean.

If you reply 'never', then firstly I probably wouldn't believe you ... and secondly I would probably ask you why not ... because it might mean you are not taking enough risks.

So, you are allowed to look like a jerk occasionally ... but never twice on the same issue or with the same customer!