Saturday, 26 March 2016

Does it make you happy?

A number of agencies, and even countries, have attempted to create measures of 'happiness' - as an alternative to using GDP to value the work undertaken by people.

This needs further work - but shows some promise. Lots of activity is currently not 'caught' in official GDP figures.  The work of volunteers, for example ... or the work of people that goes into 'free' services.  When you use 'free' apps on your smartphone of tablet, your work might be ,more productive - and this might contribute to a 'better' GDP figure .... but often it won't.

The whole point of productivity is to make people more 'wealthy' - but we need to measure wealth in ways that reflects the priorities of citizens and workers.  If people value leisure time over consumer goods, we might prioritise reduced working hours over increased GDP - and we might prefer to measure something like 'well-being' (or even 'happiness') over simple economic activity.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Level of measurement

The UK Office for National Statistics has just issued time series data for labour productivity across a number of years and for a number of sectors.  Quite interesting (for productivity nerds like me) but ultimately unhelpful in so far as the level of aggregation is so high that it has no effect on behaviour or future performance.

What the government needs to know is ... What do we need to do to make the data move in the right direction?

Interpreting this data - to result in strategy - is difficult.

The old adage - You get what you measure - fails at this level of aggregation.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

First Bahrain

Some of you will now that I have been in Bahrain for the last week helping prepare for the World Productivity Congress which will be held here in November. (see for details.)

Conversations obviously covered the productivity of Bahrain and its move towards becoming a post-oil economy.  Lots of Bahrainis look at Dubai as a possible model - creating an exciting, vibrant economy without oil revenue.  But Bahrain should not be looking to be a second Dubai - but a first Bahrain.  It has lots of advantages: it is a relatively open, diverse society with a rich history and culture; it has a good technology infrastructure; it has an open economy with no taxes on the movement of capital; most Bahrainis speak English- the international language of business.

What Bahrain has to do now is to find a 'usp' - an area of economic activity that it can make its own and that builds on existing strengths.

We are hoping that the World Productivity Congress will leave a legacy that will help transform Bahrain's economy; the Board of the World Confederation of Productivity Science has offered to facilitate and participate in discussions with Bahrain's leaders and development agencies to further those discussions.

The future starts in November.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Apologies to my American cousins

I am not a political animal - except insofar as I think I understand the role of government in creating the infrastructure required for productivity development (and have offered advice to quite a few governments over the years).

However, I must day that I am astonished by the current political scene in the USA.

The Republican party seems to be doing its best to tear itself apart.

The only comment I will make on Donald Trump is that, from this distance, he seems to be a 'populist' - telling people what he thinks they want to hear - with little ideology backing up his rhetoric.

Hopefully if he ever got to power, he would moderate some of his views - and take advice from those with more political experience.

I fear if he does not, the USA is in for a period of instability -and falling productivity.