Saturday, 31 August 2013

Please share

I've just returned from India - one of the world's economic success stories over the last decade. Yet it doesn't feel like that. 

Partly because the rupee is in free fall. 

Partly because the government is focusing only on the next (forthcoming) election. 

Partly because though wealth is being created, much of it remains in the hands of a small number of people. There is still a vast underclass who has yet to se the fruits of economic success.

The World Confederation of Productivity Science, of which I am president, espouses SEE (social, environmental and economic) productivity. If India wishes to see long-term, sustainable success it needs to start including all stakeholders in its wealth distribution. 

The best way it can do this is to invest heavily in skills development and to use those skills to drive further economic success and as a way of ensuring more of the (vast) population can participate in, and benefit from, success.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Absent without leave

I read some data the other day on the level of absence in the Australian public sector.  It was astonishingly high.

Why is this ... it seems to be a pattern in public sector employment the world over.

There are a number of possibilities.  One is that public sector organisations work their employees so hard or treat them so badly that they suffer stress. Another is that the nature of the work is so unfulfilling that workers lose motivation.

Whatever the reason, something has to be done ...  but that 'something' must be based on a clear understanding of the problem.  And we don't have that yet.

We need some research - something beyond asking workers how they 'feel' - to determine how we can create work that is satisfying and engaging and does not result in excessive absenteeism.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Knowledge workers deserve consideration

Increasingly our workplaces are filled with 'knowledge workers'. The way in which they work differs from the working patterns of 'traditional' office workers - much more participative, team-based and relying on research and discovery.

How does the way in which you design and build your office space recognise these different working patterns.  Probably not at all.  An office is an office is an office seems to be the design mantra.

Design for the work they do, not the place they sit at should be the new philosophy.  Observe, record, ask - then start to think about space and the way in can be configured.... and, of course, make it flexible.

Your staff will thank you for it .. and they are likely to be more productive.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Public or private?

There is a number of things we, collectively, have to improve over the next 10 or 20 years.  Food supply, energy supply, waste disposal, and so on.

Governments have a role to play … but how much is real change driven by the private sector via the profit motive?

Some argue that the private sector comes in too late when crisis has changed the economics of investment … but oil companies have been investing vast sums in alterative energy sources for many years.  Of course it is in their interest …. but their long-term interest. They can play the long game.

With issues like carbon taxation, governments have shown an understanding of the fact that macroeconomic policy can drive change … but, overall, the results of such initiatives have been disappointing. Governments have pulled our of their long-term commitments to address shorter-term issues brought on by the global recession.

It seems perhaps the intuition is wrong … the private sector is capable of taking a longer-term view than the public sector which caves in to short-term pressures.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Acts of faith

The IMF recently called on Sri Lanka to increase government spending on education and healthcare saying it would lead to increased labour productivity.

However for a government under real pressure, increasing public spending is a brave decision.... and a signifiant act of faith.

Will it really increase productivity? And when? And by how much? And is this a better investment than spending or, say, infrastructure or technology?

Who would be a public policy director?  The best you can do is to get it 'least wrong'.