Several years ago, Peter Drucker noted that if most organisations increased their productivity by 10% it would double their profits. At that time, 10% seemed achievable. Now, firms are lucky to achieve 5% – and nations feel good if they move into positive figures.
What has changed?
Not a lot, actually – but firms seem to have lost the ‘secret’ to improving productivity.
By ‘secret’, of course I mean adopting a consistent, structured approach to planning and executing productivity improvement projects. Where are the industrial engineers and work study engineers of yesteryear? Gone! Managers are expected to improve productivity as part of the day job. But they are busy people – and they are too immersed in what is going on. They cannot stand back and take a dispassionate view. They cannot ask themselves the hard questions.
We need independent experts who have the skills and the time to take the hard view, to ask the questions, to think about solutions, to evaluate those solutions and to draw up implementation plans. This cannot be done in spare time – it is too important.