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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How to boost office productivity

The following article is by Constantine Von Hoffman, published by Computerworld and sponsored by Microsoft – it offers important advice for all office managers nowadays Upgrading to new applications and tools can do so much for a business. Up-to-date software can improve efficiencies and boost productivity, leading to both top-line and bottom-line gains. But getting …

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The economic impact of CV-19?

An article in the Harvard Business Review by Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Martin Reeves and Paul Swartz follows – the bulk that I think I understood makes interesting reading – maybe the rest does too! As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, governments have turned to proven public health measures, such as social distancing, to physically disrupt …

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CV-19 kick starts new mentalist era

CV-19 naturally dominates the news at present – it’s all ‘doom and gloom’ as we wonder if the damned invisible bug will ‘get us’ or not We’re told there are computer models (so they must be right?) being used by experts to determine their advice on what we all should do, the aim being to …

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Covid -19 should make ‘working from home’ the norm

A flash of insight from New Zealand Go to any technology website right now, and you’ll see headlines about Google now holding job interviews on Hangouts. Or IBM stopping all domestic travel for meetings. Or Twitter encouraging all of its employees to work from home to prevent spreading the virus. David Court says working from …

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A pandemic positive!

Hamza Mudassar, writing in ‘Entrepreneur’, believes the global Covid-19 pandemic currently raging  around the world ‘will shape businesses for decades to come’ Black swan events, such as economic recessions and pandemics, change the trajectory of governments, economies and businesses — altering the course of history. The Black Death in the 1300s broke the long-ingrained feudal …

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Financial data can be ‘dangerously misleading’

This is a transcript of a second broadcast interview of UK economist Ed Smythe by the USA’s Real News Network GREGORY WILPERT: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Gregory Wilpert, joining you from Quito, Ecuador. The Bank of England has raised interest rates in the UK for the first time in a decade. The …

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Important trends for SME productivity

All business managers want their teams to get more done in less time – this means there needs to be a focus on prioritising efficient workflows while remaining consistently effective. According to therealtimereport.com, there are some important business productivity trends that all business owners and their teams need to be aware of : 1. The …

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Capitalism or Communism?

Communism has been defined as a system where: People work according to their ability and receive according to their needs All big decisions are made at the centre All data is processed at the centre   Capitalism, on the other hand, is an alternative where: People are free to buy/ sell/ invest in whatever they like …

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Universal Credit conflicts

In a new report, presented to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, researchers argue Universal Credit should focus on supporting people into decent and productive work where their skills and capabilities will be developed and used effectively. A ‘work first, then work more’ approach facilitated by Universal Credit, which is focused on placing conditions …

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Following the wrong stars?

  “The lacklustre level of productivity growth in the UK, commonly measured as the level of output per hour worked, has been evident ever since the financial crisis in 2008/09 and has, as of yet, shown so signs of coming to an end” So claimed an article by Eleanor Stevenson, written for Ebury Partners UK …

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Mavericks don’t fit straitjackets

Recall what the great Steve Jobs said: “Think differently” when giving reasons for the global success of Apple Then consider the spat between Finn Russell, the supremely talented Scotland fly-half and Gregor Townsend, the current Scotland rugby team manager and ex-fly-half, which was reported on in the Sunday Times by ex-England fly-half, Stuart Barnes Russell …

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Piketty tackles inequality

Thomas Piketty, the French economist ‘rock star’, has just published a new tome – Capital and Ideology – a mere 1,100 pages of it David Smith reported in the Sunday Times that ‘it looks at inequality regimes over time’ Key points Piketty makes include: “Every human society must justify its inequalities” – but notes that the …

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Inherited inequality

The following extracts were taken from an Audrey Pollnow review of ‘The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite’ by Daniel Markovits Markovits, a professor of law at Yale, argues that a system that once promoted social mobility has created a self-perpetuating class of elites – …

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Process productivity decided by humans

By Tommy Weir, for Gulf News and author of “Leadership Dubai Style” When it comes to boosting productivity, people immediately point to the need for process improvement, automation or outsourcing, whilst overlooking the most important factor of all – the human worker Indeed, many companies are happy to splash cash on technologies and strategies that …

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BIF drains, not lines, national coffers

The following are extracts from ‘Divested’ by Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Tobias Neely They claim the BIF – Banking Insurance Finance – sector is draining, not lining, developed nations’ coffers For proof, they look to the USA’s experience Until the 1970s, the financial sector accounted for a mere 15% of all US corporate profits: Banks …

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The puzzle to persist?

According to Valentina Romei, writing in the Financial Times, the last decade  saw living standards in the UK grow at their slowest rate since the second world war She says: “The jobs bonanza, and the economy’s performance as a whole, was undermined by weak productivity, which grew at its slowest level in 60 years” She …

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Billionaires reveal their secrets

An interesting piece by Jade Scipioni in a CNBC news piece ‘Beyond the Valley’ There are some 2,600 billionaires in the world — and more than two-thirds are self-made A few have of the latter have shared lessons on life and how they found success Warren Buffett, worth some $80 billion – Invest in yourself: …

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AI promises huge productivity gains for financial services

In an article by Donna Fuscaldo in Forbes magazine she claims AI (Artificial intelligence) will bring lots of gains to the financial services industry, whether it’s through automating processes or adding more convenience for their customers. But now we can quantify just how big of an enhancement AI will have on the bottom line for …

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2020 foresight for fossil-free energy

A report by Kelsey Warner in The National says that, over the next 10 years, the Middle East’s biggest export could become the sun, not oil, thanks to new technology that turns solar power into fuel A new Bill Gates-backed clean energy company, Heliogen, based in Lancaster, California, has concentrated solar energy to exceed 1,500°C …

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Wasted time at school

Government sanctioned waste has a lot to answer for Ministers might bang on about the importance of productivity improvement but their thinking seems restricted to vital investment in infrastructure, R&D and skills training Drive around any town mid-afternoon and see streams of kids walking home from school – and wonder what they do when they …

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Productivity crisis fixed?

The Times has announced a project to be run by the strangely named ‘Be the Business’, a government sponsored initiative aimed at solving the productivity crisis said to be afflicting the nation 100 big companies, including Amazon, Aviva, BAE systems, British Land, Cisco, Google and Rolls Royce, ‘will promise to boost UK productivity by encouraging …

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More recognition of ‘consumer surpli’

A splendid article by Diane Coyle, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and contributor to www.project-syndicate.org, has just been posted by the East African Business Week – it’s entitled ‘Rethinking Productivity’ and helps explain much of the current productivity puzzle supposedly afflicting many developed nations, including the UK The word “productivity” typically …

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Wasting time is not wasted time

Rest periods, R & R, tea breaks, lunch breaks and most meetings – call them what you will – are essential for brawn workers’ muscles to recover – they couldn’t work at full speed for a solid eight hours – just as Usain Bolt couldn’t run full pelt over 400 metres compared with 100 metres …

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National inputs also ‘seriously flawed’

Official measures of GDP are said to be ‘seriously flawed’ Now, a report by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the Centre for Cities think tank claims ‘millions more people are unemployed than official statistics suggest’ Worse still: “The joblessness rate could be three times higher than thought” because some three million …

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At last, official recognition of the ‘GDP gap’

Yian Mui reports on CNBC that the US Federal Reserve wants to know what the internet is worth to you. He says the answer could help the central bank solve one of the most puzzling paradoxes of the modern economy: The current expansion is the longest in history, yet productivity gains are weak and GDP growth, …

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New UK ‘Productivity Institute’

Productivity of UK businesses is set to be supercharged with £88 million in new government investment announced the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy: £88 million new government investment to help close the productivity gap between UK and major world economies and turbocharge British businesses investment will help power the next generation supercomputers which …

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Productivity stagnant despite global stimulus

Mark John reports that economies around the world have failed to boost productivity levels despite $10 trillion of central bank stimulus unleashed since the global financial crisis of a decade ago, according to the WEF (World Economic Forum) think tank. Productivity, a measure of an economy’s ability to generate growth, has become of a matter …

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A National ‘Balanced Scorecard’

All nations – governments and their electorates – need a National Balanced SCorecard (NBSC) of performance measures – a set of cardinals they each can monitor which covers all important factors affecting their standard of living (SoL) and quality of lives (QoL) The  NBSC would be a mix of measures – some absolute, some subjective …

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Beware ‘snooptech’

Ben Gallagher, co-founder of B+A, a management consultancy, raised an interesting slant on new digital possibilities ‘Snooptech’, as the Telegraph reported recently, is a £2.7billion industry The increasing sophistication of digital tools, as well as the continued stagnancy of productivity in the UK, has created a market for technology whose sole purpose is to allow companies …

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BoE powerless in UK productivity crisis

Tim Wallace in the Daily Telegraph reports Mark Carney, Governor of the BoE – Bank of England – saying: “Britain’s economy has a new, lower speed limit” Growth can only get to even modest levels before inflation takes off whereupon ‘we must ease our foot off the accelerator’ Ben Broadbent, one of Carney’s deputies, claims: …

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Three Factors Of Successful Companies

Kweilin Ellingrud, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co, contributed the following interesting article to Forbes magazine   It’s been 12 years since the last recession, when the World Bank estimates that global GDP fell by 1.7%. But some companies were better prepared than others: their revenues didn’t fall as far and, as the recession …

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Organisation productivity measurement

Professor Jillian MacBryde from the University of Strathclyde says: “When manufacturers talk about productivity, they’re not talking about the same thing as the economists and politicians – they’re not even talking about the same thing when you go from company to company” Such is the current fog enshrouding the productivity of UK businesses The set …

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Mentalism overtaking Materialism

According to official statistics, the GDPs of all G7 developed nations have been trending flat, even downward, over the last decade and more The big question is whether, at the turn of the century, the G7 reached a watershed between their old 20th century materialist economies and the new 21st century mentalist economies – the …

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A new ISC rides to the rescue

Puzzle no more about dormant national productivity – the cavalry have arrived in the form of Andy Haldane, chief economist of the BoE (Bank of England) who is to chair the government’s new ISC – Industrial Strategy Council – it’s another quango of sorts for a select few of our great and good to deal …

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At work but not working

According to the CEBR (Centre for Ecoomics and Business Research) UK businesses don’t know how to maximise their human capital despite the vast majority being ‘concerned’ or more about their people productivity – indeed, a survey they conducted found that: Some two thirds have not looked at ways to boost employee well-being and so motivation …

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Further UK education needs

“The new prime minister will have to rise to the skills and productivity challenge, and make sure that everyone, no matter where they come from, can get a chance to have a great job”, says Anne Milton, UK Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships The following is an article she wrote in FEWeek I want the …

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Boeing’s MAX 737 disaster

Stan Sorscher, a former Boeing engineers and now a Labour Representative at the SPEEA (Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) is the author of a letter, reproduced in full below, which he posted to the Seattle Times In it he says Boeing’s cost-cutting culture is to blame for production problems with the 737 MAX …

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Extra task performance measures

Some interesting ideas follow from ‘Entrepreneur Europe’ on ways to assess the performance of a team – marketing or software development, say – and keeping a finger on their pulse Four extra performance measures are proposed: Planned-to-done ratios: How well have plans been executed? What % were completed satisfactorily, or better? Cycle time: Work is …

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Winners need stamina

A question managers often ask is “Why do so many big change projects fail?” It’s not so much the steps they take – all follow much the same basic steps when under way viz: Record facts Examine findings Develop solutions But where most go wrong is with other steps needed before, during and after the …

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Turbocharging Australian productivity

Adrian Blundell-Wignall, former director of the OECD and professor at Sydney University, says: “It’s not enough to tweak R&D incentives – we, Australia, need a detailed plan that will change the whole climate for smart investment and productivity growth During the (recent) election, the focus was on tax cuts and “having a go” The Treasurer …

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The Secret Sauce for productivity?

Greg Hanover, CEO of Liveops Inc, claims organisations that tap into the power of the gig economy see much increased (% ?) workforce engagement and productivity Why so? He believes it’s because independent workers are empowered to follow their unique goals and create satisfying careers for themselves And he’s right – it’s not only good …

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GDP – Consumer Surpli

Consumer surplus is defined as the difference between the highest price a consumer would have been willing to pay and the price actually paid It’s the unquantified value customers obtain from tangible stuff they buy – such benefits include taking less time or effort to do things, obtaining more fun and pleasure from life, having …

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Small Businesses measure up differently

Michelle Ovens campaigns for the UK’s 5.5 million SBs in the ‘Small Business’ publication She notes that small businesses are responding to this time of change and uncertainty with Brexit by keeping faith in the community values that make them the backbone of the UK economy. She asks: “Perhaps we have been looking at small …

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AI, the future of work and inequality

An excellent article follows, by Daniele Tavani, Colorado State University, USA – reprinted in full One of the most spectacular facts of the last two centuries of economic history is the exponential growth in GDP per capita in most of the world. Figure 1 shows the rise (and the difference) in living standards for five countries …

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Ethical capitalism

We have waxed long and hard on these pages about CEOs acting like pigs at the trough, robbing their businesses, the golden geese that should be improving the lot of all in society, by paying themselves huge unjustified pay and bonuses and maximising their share prices (and hence their shareholdings) whilst paying their employees the …

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Where measuring engagement goes wrong

An article by Peter Cappelli and Liat Eldor in the Harvard Business Review is reproduced below close to its entirety Surveys to assess how engaged workers are in their jobs are highly popular among employers, who hope the results will help them improve employee productivity and creativity and reduce turnover – but consultants and academics …

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Economists’ information gap

Robert Samuelson, an economic journalist writing in the Washington Post, says: “Many economists often don’t know what’s going on” How refreshing to read this breeze of commonsense after being buffeted by gales of expert opinion and advice from the government and its agencies, economic think-tanks or the media The following is a precis of his …

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21C to be greatest century in history

According to Ian King, banyanhill.com, we were promised flying cars by now but got Facebook – not to mention Google, Twitter and Skype He admits Facebook has its uses but the utopian future expected has yet to arrive – all these new technologies have not yet led to widespread prosperity In 1930, John Maynard Keynes …

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GDP – Flaws

At present, GDP is universally taken to be not just a measure of national output but also shorthand for national well-being Richard Tomkin, assistant director of the ONS (Office for National Statistics), which collects all the base data, says: “GDP is used as an all-encompassing proxy for people’s living standards although never designed for this” …

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Current NHS productivity measurement

The University of York’s Centre for Health Economics confidently announced that, despite the government making drastic cuts: “Hard working NHS staff are providing 16.5% more care per £ than they did 10 years before whilst national productivity has only grown by 6.7% over the same period In particular, they claim that: NHS outputs have continuously …

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