Saturday, 30 May 2015

Don't listen to me!

I have been doing some training this week - on Change Management. Both the group I was with - and myself - exhibited all the signs of a comfortable regularity - staying at the same hotel we always stay at, dining in the same restaurant, eating (broadly) the same lunch - and so on.  Its very good when you can use yourself as the role model/case study..

Of course I think of myself as a flexible innovator - but 'behind the scenes' I am as resistant to change as anybody else.  This doesn't make me odd, or staid, or old-fashioned or curmudgeonly - though I might be those things as well.... it just makes me normal.  It is my little routines that make the day go more easily.  No need to think; just do what you've always done.

... And hope that when its needed, you can switch into 'change' mode - and become that flexible innovator.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Before or after the event?

Some firms like to link pay explicitly to performance - with a direct link.(the 'carrot approach')
Some like to rely on post-poor-performance sanctions ( the 'stick' approach).
Those who think of themselves as enlightened pay good basic pay and expect good performance (the 'faith') approach).
Others pay poor wages but still expect good performance (the 'miserable fools' approach)
....  but the majority have never thought about it (the 'ignorant fools' approach)

Which one(s) do you think work?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Government failure ... or success?

In the UK, we have a new government ... similar to the last one... but without the need for a coalition.  I make no political comment on the government we have ... only that I am glad we have a single-party government that should be capable of directing its own strategy.

In another context, wearing another hat, I have been ruminating on the degree to which governments influence productivity.  My starting point was that governments have little long-term effect on productivity, though they can have an impact in the short-term.  Long-term trends though tend to proceed irrespective of government intervention until there is some revolutionary event that triggers a 'great leap forward'.

However, as I started to think - and to draft the paper I am working on - I started to change my mind.

I started thinking about the infrastructure elements that underpin high productivity - health, education, skills, transport, communications ..... in addition to the macroeconomic and research/innovation culture.  Clearly these are all factors where government has a major role to play ... and major influence to bear.

So, perhaps governments do have a major role to play ... in creating the potential for high productivity that industrial and commercial organisations can build on.

So, if you are in the UK, I hope you voted - for the greater productivity good - and not personal economic well-being.  Only the former can deliver the latter in the longer-term.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

New Jobs, new management?

I am a governor of a secondary school in the UK.  We are preparing our pupils for a world of work in which many of the jobs do not yet exist ... and even many of those that do now exist will have changed substantially.

Our pupils will go through 'portfolio careers' in which they will have several jobs - often multiple part-time jobs at the same time.

This means we are trying to instil flexibility and resilience into our pupils - alongside knowledge, understanding and core skills, of course.

What does all this mean for the future productivity of the UK?  Well, knowledgeable, flexible, resilient workers should form a good basis for a high productivity organisation - if that organisation is willing and ready to work with that flexibility, exploit it and allow it to underpin organisational flexibility and innovation.

My fear is that managers who are of a previous generation will continue to create inflexible, rigid structures that fail to exploit these new skills and attributes.

Saturday, 2 May 2015


Diversity is a bit of a buzz word.  We are all, as employers, encouraged to monitor and manage diversity in our workforce.  But is there any evidence that having a diverse workforce makes any significant difference to an organisation?

Anecdotal evidence is fine.  And, of course, there is a degree of 'intuition' about making sure you exploit the talents and skills of all parts of the potential workforce.  But 'real' difference?

I don't know ... BUT... I came across something the other day that make me think.

A paper was published recently in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggesting that when plant biodiversity declines, the remaining plants have lower productivity.

Can we draw a parallel with human diversity.  Probably not ... but it does make you think, doesn't it?