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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Aggregation hides info needed

Current measures of productivity become less and less useful the higher the level they go: Aggregation increasingly blurs the performance picture Apples get mixed with pears Specific inputs used for specific outputs and outcomes get lost in the mix At national level, this aggregation problem is at its worst, compounded by much output and most …

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UK productivity gap half-explained?

According to Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor of The Times, Britain’s dismal productivity gap with much of the developed world is due not only to lack of investment, bad management and low interest rates as previously thought Another significant causal factor has been found The UK’s ONS – Office for National Statistics – asked the Paris-based OECD …

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Work hard or work well?

Many say the secret for a good life is ‘work hard and play hard’ Leila Hock, in an article for Career Contessa, disagrees – ‘work hard’ apparently “makes my eyes roll a little” She believes we’ve become too preoccupied with “the grind” and it’s actually bringing us down – “It has a negative effect on …

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All nations need a National Productivity Centre

An article by Lalin Fernandopulle in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Observer, headed ‘Productivity policy vital for economic growth’, promotes the worth of all nations having a National Productivity Organisation  Sri Lanka is the only APO (Asian Productivity Organisation) member country which does not have an NPO (National Productivity Organisation). Company director Sunil Wijesinghe says: “Setting up a …

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UK industrial strategy

The UK government’s ‘Industrial Strategy’ for making the UK more competitive and the economy better-balanced essentially involves increasing R&D investment and workers’ skills It considers five areas for productivity improvement – Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Places and Business environment – and recognises four grand challenges: Artificial intelligence and machine learning Clean growth Future mobility Ageing society …

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