Dick Smythe was educated at Bolton School, graduated in pure mathematics and statistics at St Andrews University and then took a masters in Operations Research at Birmingham University • He became a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, Operational Research Society, Institute of Management Services and the Institute of Physical Distribution Management • His career started with a scholarship from Dorman Long Steel on Teesside, working shifts on blast furnaces and steel mills before graduating and, afterwards, in their OR department – he subsequently moved to London to join the world-famous BISRA OR department, then part of British Steel, and was involved in their corporate planning and cost reduction programmes • During these earlier years, he became an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, serving on their coastal minesweepers, and a wing forward for Rosslyn Park RFC (n'th XV), playing mostly for their famed après-rugby • He was then recruited by Europe's leading consultancy of the day, PA Consulting Group, and went on to set up and grow their Productivity Services Division into a significant part of the business, becoming a PA director and sitting on their UK management consultancy board - whilst there, he led a joint study with the CBI into UK productivity, and presented the results on TV, radio and to the national press with Director General Sir John Banham - The Times leader commented: "It is refreshing to come across something that has its feet firmly planted on the ground" • Since then, he has mixed productivity consultancy work with playing the property and stock markets, skippering his own boat in the Fastnet and many other ocean yacht races and keeping his golf handicap down to single figures • He is happily married, has two sons and two grandchildren to date, and lives either by the Solent or at Marble Arch in London

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Author's posts

The evolution of productivity

Lydia Dishman wrote an article for Fast Company outlining steps taken over time to improve productivity – it’s not comprehensive but interesting nevertheless According to her, there’s no definitive source for the start of productivity improvement efforts but there are historical mentions of it in Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776). Smith contended that there were …

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A famous fire that changed workers’ rights

The following are extracts from a publication by the AFL-CIO, America’s Unions On Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their ladders weren’t tall enough to reach the upper floors of the 10-story building. Trapped inside …

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Target setting

Targets are needed to bring meaning to any performance measure They enable one to quantify scope for improvement, performance gaps to be closed and urgency for change Told your ‘bad’ cholesterol level is 8.6 and most would ask ‘so what?’ – told that good health requires the level to be below 5 and a course …

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Waste makes productivity dead in the water

 A post by author Charles Hugh Smith hits the nail on the head about the ‘productivity puzzle’ – rising waste in all sectors, hardly mentioned by the experts, is mostly to blame Productivity in the U.S. has been declining since the early 2000s. This trend mystifies economists, as the tremendous investments in software, robotics, networks and mobile …

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Misleading research metrics

In an article entitled ‘Capitalism is ruining science’, Meagan Day (for www.jacobinmag.com) points out that universities existed before capitalism and pursued not profit but truth and knowledge But no longer The modern university has become increasingly subservient to the imperatives of capitalism i.e. competition, profit maximisation and increasing labour productivity In academia, this manifests itself as …

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