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?

A formula for innovation

Thomas Friedman suggests that “big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.”

So, leaders of successful companies are those that recognise both sides of that formula – they know what is needed, and they identify when solutions become possible … and they identify this before their competitors.

Different Strokes

I’ve been to several countries in the last few months.

All of them need higher productivity BUT …

1. each of them has to define just what higher productivity means in their particular context

2. each of them has to prioritise where they most need higher productivity

3. each of them has to decide how they might make the improvements they have prioritised

So, a national productivity campaign would look quite different in each of these places.   Of course there would be similarities … and overlaps … but any campaign must be ‘flavoured’ by the responses to the three points above and by the history and culture of the particular country.

This is also the reason that consultants with pre-packaged productivity solutions often offer sub-optimal advice!

Snake Oil

If you read lots of press releases … as I do (yes, I know I should ‘get a life’), you soon realise that just about everything is claimed to improve productivity.

Most often such ‘stories’ relate to what is termed ‘personal productivity’ … the kind of ‘productivity’ that is aided by powernapping, reminder software, crystals, copper bracelets, iPads, honey … you get the picture.

These claims are accompanied by details of a survey or study … which almost always is based on a self-selecting constituency.  Again, you know the kind of thing. “60% of people say eating chocolate mid-morning helps productivity” says the President of the Chocolate-Eating Guild after a survey of members.

So, if you do see a claim about productivity, check out the credentials of any study … and, even then, keep your tongue in your cheek and your money in your pocket.

What did you achieve?

Too often, managers assess worker performance – especially in knowledge jobs – on how long they work … not on what they achieve.

Of course workers react to such measurement schemes and will extend their hours … taking longer than necessary to complete work if that is what it takes to fill the hours expected of them.

So make sure you measure what your staff do – and achieve - rather than how long they are ‘present’.

Think things through

I went to a presentation recently on Israel’s approach to innovation … and to Research & Development in particular.

What struck me was the ‘joining of the dots’ … the fact that Israel seems to have broken down the silo mentality of government to coordinate activity across a range of departments.  They have done this by appointing a ‘Chief Scientist’ who has authority and responsibility .. and who can work across these departments.

Other countries have campaigns, policies and strategies … but few of them seem to have thought the issues through to the point where they can deliver on the vision.

This is not a plea to copy israel’s approach to R&D … but – whatever the issue – to think through issues, the structures needed for implementation and the need for a ‘leader’ to give focus and to drive through the good intentions.