Productivity Leadership

How would a productivity director of a global enterprise exhibit leadership?

My first thoughts are that, like all effective leaders, they would define and articulate a clear mission, vision and set of values with commitment to : excellence, fairness, recognition, and reward.

They would demonstrate an understanding of the environmental and social impact of business activity.

They would support their mission and vision with the provision of appropriate resources.

Finally, they would ‘walk the walk’ – all the above would be reflected in the way they behave as much as in what they said

Is it fair?

For several decades after World War II, the graphs for productivity and wages mirrored eac other – productivity increases allowed workers to earn more money. Over the last decade this has changed. Whoever is reaping the benefits of increased productivity, it certainly isn’t the workers.

Part of the explanation is that technological change distorts the relationship- technology when applied successfully lowers costs and increases productivity. You might think it is s fair that workers should not benefit if labour productivity has not brought about the change …but if we can’t design a society that shares the benefits, we build up unrest for the future.


Tehnology, anyone?

When times are tough (as they are now), we tend to turn in all directions looking for some help

So, will technology help us out of the current mess we are in?

It is possible for some types of organisation – but I wouldn’t bet on it.

In concert with something else - procedural review, process re-engineering – you stand more chance -but relying on technology on its own sounds like desperation.

China’s difficult ask

China’s productivity record over recent years has been excellent – yet most of the improvement has come from capital investment.

As such it has been relatively low-hanging fruit. If growth is to be maintained, the job gets harder- needing real changes to systems, processes and procedures … real changes to labour productivity.

It will be interesting to observe progress.

New Year Resolution

This, of course is the time for resolution- determination to do more and/or better, to improve. But this shouldn’t happen at new year- or, at least, not only at new year. Such determination should be ingrained in you at all times – and across your organisation.

So, by all means make a resolution - but resolve to keep resolving… to keep challenging and improving, asking questions and seeking answers.

Above all, resolve not to be complacent. Make this a truly productive year … and the basis of many more.

What about the workers

Information from India, provided by the ILO, shows that economic growth from 2008 to 2011 was over 7%. However real wages rose by about 1.6%.

This suggests that the fruits of productivity growth are not being shared with the workers.

This is unfortunately too typical. Over the last decade, the only part of the world in which wage differentials between the lowest and highest paid have reduced is Latin America. Elsewhere, in West and East, those differentials have increased … and this is in countries which are supposed to have left-wing governments just as much as those which have, allegedly, right wing governments.

This seems inherently unfair … and is surely a recipe for social unrest. The WCPS is committed to both creating – and sharing – the wealth that accrues from increased productivity, believing that this is a necessary underpinning of world peace.  It seems that not enough people agree with us … or are willing to act!

This is something to ponder as you sit down to your Christmas lunch.

Stand Up for Productivity

Many workers sit – at desks, at PCs, at assembly stations at …

It has been known for many years that it s beneficial to give people the choice as to whether to sit or stand … and to give them furniture that accommodates either.

Yes, it is rare to see such provision. Presumably the cost of the furniture is deemed to be expensive … and the payback period too long. Yet I doubt that anyone has done a study to identify the productivity gain that would accrue … and then to work out a ‘real’ payback schedule,

We might all be surprised.

Building consensus

Regular readers will know i have just been in Mauritius helping to promote their national productivity campaign.

I talked to lots of stakeholders – employers, trades unions, educators, government agencies and even senior figures in the =government. Quite often I met good will … and a realisation that productivity is important to the future prosperity of Mauritius.

However, there did not seem to be a ‘collective will’ … there were not enough strong partnerships and networks of groups involved in promoting and developing productivity.  Of course, you say, that is why they have a productivity campaign.

You are right of course.  But they need to build on awareness raised by creating the structures and the partnerships that can start to discuss and debate the key issues … and so they can build a consensus … and a shared (vision for the) future.

At least Mauritius is trying … many other nations have not yet even realised how important productivity development is to the future wealth and well-being of their citizens.

Will it work?

I am currently in Mauritius, helping launch their National Productivity Campaign.  I am talking to government officials, trades unions, employers, educators … and the public.

Such campaigns are relatively common.  Do they work?

Well, it is difficult to say … because one can rarely measure the ‘counterfactual’ … what would have happened if the campaign had not been run.

So, they are largely an act of faith.

However getting everyone informed about productivity … and lining up to participate in a coordinated strategy to improve national productivity cannot be a bad thing, can it?

A slap in the face

Maneesh Sethi wrote on his blog that he hired a “slapper” to smack him in the face whenever he logged onto Facebook while working and boasted that it increased his productivity.

Of course, Sethi must have diagnosed the fact that accessing Facebook was causing him to lose productivity. His solution was drastic … but imaginative.

Think what you might do to create a metaphorical slap in the face for yourself … or your organisation.

What is it that might currently be draining focus and efficiency? How can you draw attention to it? How can you stop it happening?