• 04 Jan 2023 9:05 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Major technological change does boost productivity. Think of the really big developments - the wheel, the steam engine, the computer, the Internet, the robot. Though it takes time, such technologies have transformed industry and  human life in general.  Sometimes, of course ,the developments are on a smaller scale or more niche in terms of applicability - but important drivers of productivity no less.  

    So what are the new technologies that are transforming or will transform industrial and commercial processes.

    Well, drones are proving very useful in surveying both small and large physical areas - and objects.  Using a drone to scan an aircraft’s fuselage for signs of wear is much quicker than building the scaffolding for humans to do a close-up physical inspection. Artificial and mixed reality headsets could revolutionise skills training and development - and assessment.

    The ‘trick’ is to keep your eye on technological development and regularly assess whether it does, or could, apply to your business, your products, your processes.  Scanning the technology horizon should involve looking at new and emerging technologies - not just obviously relevant technologies but seemingly irrelevant technologies that can be made relevant by the way in which they are applied.

    Why wouldn’t you look at what might be a helping hand to improved productivity?

  • 28 Dec 2022 7:50 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Since publication date of this blog is right at the end of the year, I simply want to wish everyone a productive new year. During the holidays, I am sure you have been reflecting on your goals for 2023 and how you may achieve them.  Without goals you simply cannot be successful. With goals , but no plan to achieve them, you will be frustrated.

    Success doesn’t just happen - even with dedication and hard work. Your parents were wrong.  Your work has to be in the right direction, moving you (sometimes very slowly) towards your goals.  Each action you take should be part of your master plan. 

    Of course you need some luck -but people tend to make their own luck by recognising and exploiting opportunities as they arise.

    You might need to take a risk or two  - but if your goal is important enough, it should be worth it.  However, take only controlled risks - where you have assessed the potential consequences and thought about mitigation if things do go wrong.  You will become safer and more resilient.

    Recognise those who can help you - snd those who cannot or will not. Engage with the former.

    2023 could be your best year yet.  Try and make it so. I wish you well.

  • 21 Dec 2022 8:05 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    With Working from Home still being a a large factor for many organisations, monitoring of employee work habits has become more common.

    When did they send the email?

    When did they access the latest briefing note?

    Questions like these ,and many more, are becoming easier to answer with messaging snd team-based software becoming prevalent.

    Such monitoring is often seen as an infringement of employee privacy and considered inappropriate for ‘well-managed’ firms.

    However, the same data that can be used to ’spy on’ workers and hold them to account for their lack of presence or  engagement can also be used to check on their well-being.

    Instead of the questions above, we could ask:

    Why are they sending work-related emails at 2 am? Or ...

    Why have they been online for seven straight hours?

    A few days or perhaps weeks of out-of-hours working will start to lower their focus and their productivity.

    Management means making sure you have all the right resources in place, operating at optimum performance.  You need your employees fit, engaged and alert not tired/exhausted.

    So, if you monitor, ask yourself why?

  • 14 Dec 2022 9:42 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Most of us have some form of ToDo list.

    This might be very simple  - a list of things in our head that we want to do today or this week - or we might use a sophisticated task manager.  However there are often things on the list that shouldn’t be there - either their relevance (or their due date) has passed, or they are simply not important enough - they don’t make a large enough contribution to our strategic goals.

    These items should be moved to a (real or imaginary) Don’t Do list to clear the Todo list and refocus our efforts on what is really important.

    Not doing something saves time, effort and money - a real productivity earner.  Moving it to a Don’t Do list secures the win.

  • 07 Dec 2022 3:21 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Some of us are not naturally morning people. 

    It takes us a couple of hours to becomes fully awake and alert and reach peak performance.

    If in that couple of hours. you’ve  had one or more important meetings, or you have worked on a key task, you may have performed less well than you can.

    So, is there anything you can do to improve your morning performance.

    Luckily, there is.  There are some simple things you can do which might help.

    Avoid coffee. Drink some iced water instead. This rehydrates you and jumpstarts your metabolism.

    Do a few exercises.  Not necessarily a full workout - but simple physical reaches and stretches, snd some breathing exercises.  Again, this wakes the body up.

    Analyse your schedule and set priorities.  Decide what you can reasonably accomplish.

    If you can, meditate or practise mindfulness. Clear your mind of yesterday’s baggage.

    Now, you should be ready to perform.  You have turned yourself into a morning person.

  • 30 Nov 2022 7:55 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    The UK is successful in many areas- it has a large, successful renewable energy sector, a whopping great financial services sector and a large tech startup sector.  Yet UK productivity does not reflect these advantages.

    Skills seem to hold back UK industry - many firms are finding it impossible to recruit the skilled or experienced workers they need.

    This ends in a bidding war for the available talent - and this reduces productivity by putting up costs.

    Traditionally, if labour is expensive or scarce - or both - firms have used technology to fill the gaps.

    This might be what they have to do now - to meet the current skills shortage.

    They should investigate where technology solutions can transform processes .and where it can help improve the information flows that will enable the executive team to better manage those processes.

    All of that will only work, however, if the firms have the necessary skills and expertise to manage the resulting transformation projects.  Technology can unlock growth and improve productivity.  But it can place a noose around the neck of the organisation if technology solutions are badly designed or poorly implemented.

  • 23 Nov 2022 8:01 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    We have known for many years that some of us are larks and some of us are owls.  Well, this simple categorisation has behttps://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes/chronotype-quiz/.en confirmed by experts (2007 study published in Personality and Individual Differences) who suggest there are actually four of these states - called chronotypes.

    There are evidently four chronotypes: Lions, dolphins, wolves and bears. 

    Lions wake up early with lots of energy, while wolves are most energetic in the evenings. Dolphins are light sleepers who are often diagnosed with insomnia and bears need a full eight hours of sleep every night.

    The significance of this s that each of us should establish a work-rest pattern and schedule which matches our own particular chronotype.  We need to work with the natural rhythms of our body, not fight against them.

    Your chronotype can have an impact on your personality, sleep behaviour and general health …. And, of course, on your productivity.

    You can take a quiz to establish your chronotype at https://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes/chronotype-quiz/.

  • 16 Nov 2022 7:52 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Many people have been working from home during the pandemic. In fact many of them are still working from home for at least part of their working week.

    For most of these people, this has been great for their work-life balance.  They have been better able to balance the demands of their work with other responsibilities - family, childcare and so on.

    Work-life balance has been a ‘hot topic’ for a number of years. Some industries became ‘toxic’ and made unreasonable demands on staff, expecting attendance (real or virtual) over extended hours.  This was made worse by the availability of technologies which kept people in contact with the workplace over (and beyond) those extended hours.

    The problem is that the working-from-home aspect of the pandemic has tipped the work-life balance too far away from work.  We hear rumours of lots of people ‘quiet quitting’ - working the minimum they can get away - very low productivity.

    So, firms now have the tricky problem of moving the pivot back towards work without antagonising staff to the point where the quiet quitting becomes much louder.

    The balance might not move back into the toxic zone but it needs to move back into the productivity zone! 

  • 09 Nov 2022 7:33 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    Can we raise productivity by doing less?

    Well, if that lesser activity has a greater impact, then Yes, We Can.

    You need to shift the mindset of your managers to concentrate on key results and key impacts, rather than counting units or activities or hours worked.

    Focus on these impact activities and you start to moves the needle into the ‘golden zone’, that vertical thread that connects mission and vision, through objectives, through key performance indicators to actions and activities.  If that thread is broken, you are wasting resources.

    Get your staff focused on key results and you should move the needle back to where it should be - where it has the most impact on productivity.

    A popular (and iconic) example of this involved President Kennedy’s visit to the NASA Space Centre in the early 1960’s...... 

    During the visit, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said ‘Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?’ 

    ‘Well, Mr. President’, the janitor responded, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ 

    To the naked eye, this janitor was just cleaning the building, but in the more mythic, larger story unfolding around him, he was helping put a man on the moon. And the point is: No matter how large or small the role, employees are (or should be) contributing to the larger story unfolding within the business  - and to the ultimate mission.

    They, and you, should be concentrating on what really matters. 

  • 02 Nov 2022 7:35 AM | John Heap (Administrator)

    If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

    That’s a useful slogan in some circumstances - but not in business.

    If you expect the status quo to deliver success, you are likely to be disappointed - or you are in some sort of niche situation or industry.

    If you aim to maintain the status quo, you are not improving.

    But your competitors might be.  

    While you relax in your confidence in the current situation, they come roaring past with new ideas, new products, new features, new processes - or any one of the myriad things that can give them an advantage over you.

    The status quo - and especially your complacency with it - is your enemy!

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