Archive for 2016

The Productivity Spotlight: Planks and Splinters


Working with numerous organisations in public, private and third sectors and across manufacturing, utilities and services I am increasingly struck by the extent to which the contemporary challenge of improving productivity needs to focus more on “the management” than it does “the workers”. Productivity improvement thinking, from Adam Smith (pin makers), through Frederick Taylor (pig […]

Don’t Reduce your Costs……


………Improve your Processes. The costs of any organization, setting aside fraud, incompetence and stupidity, are largely a function of its processes (and adherence to them or not). The costs further reflect the supporting technology, the application of people’s skills and behaviours and, critically, the management attitude, i.e. the balance of autonomy and constraint as expressed […]

ICIF – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose


This blog was written for the ICIF website but as is the way of things technological that is having a few hiccups so we are publishing here. Because it is a month since the original drafting I have taken the opportunity to refresh the content a little – the italicized words. Feel free to enjoy […]

What Aristotle can teach us about Service Quality


The early quality movement from the 1940s adopted manufacturing process control techniques enabling consistent, reliable, standardised output. Great benefits are derived from that approach and with the shift towards service industries effort has been made to achieve similar benefits by ‘doing quality’ in services. Notwithstanding the valiant efforts of some (in particular John Oakland and […]

Doing More with Less NOT Doing Less with Less: Keep Taking the P**s


Today I am cross. Sufficiently cross as to be considered borderline angry. This crossness is driven by crass behaviour and decision making of local authorities and, as it turns out, Central Government too! It is ‘Pig and Paper Day’ here in West Berkshire, the day on which, historically, the local farmers would bring their stock […]

University Challenged: Another Fine Mess


Illusions of Control, Delusions of Management


I have been working recently in two situations where the ‘doer’ of work is at a distance – in geography, in time, in culture – from the ‘manager’ who wants the work done. This led me to ponder the conventional ideas of control and management and, particularly, of traditional hierarchical organisation. In the first situation […]

University Challenged?


I was giving a lecture on ‘The Intelligent Organisation’ 1 to a group of final year undergraduates and we got to that bit at the end…….. “Any Questions?” …..which is so often experienced as a profound and embarrassed silence punctuated by the occasional bleep of a digital device………… “Lecturer nearly finished yakking, with you as […]

Information and the Intelligent Organisation


This blog was initially delivered at the 2nd International Data and Information Management Conference at Loughborough University on 12th January 2016. Summary John explores how organisations must use information to synthesise organisational performance through integration of people and process to deliver desired outcomes. He shows that organisational sustainability through learning, adaptation and knowledge management depend […]

Inevitable consequences


One of the difficulties for the members of any organisation is to ‘see the world anew’ (Albert Einstein). Accustomed to ‘the way things are done around here’, inured to its challenges or simply blinded to its faults through the absence of an alternative view, we keep on doing the same thing not expecting a different […]