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

Financial cardinals needed

Of the many financial measures available, only three qualify as financial cardinals – the ones whose alarm bells must ring to prompt action in good time They are total revenue, total cost and profitability They’re ‘catch-all’ measures covering all outputs, outcomes and inputs: Total revenue covers net outputs sold and outcomes the customers took into …

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Financial metrics are not enough

How do you know if an organisation has performed well?   If it’s a private company, financial results will reflect customers’ valuations of what they were offered and translate them into revenue and profits   If it’s a public sector unit, the tax-paying public will judge quality and service levels received – actual costs are …

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Most plans go unseen or unused

The following is an extract from ‘Productivity Knowhow’ A good corporate plan is a punchy summary of where an organisation aims to be in five years’ time and, broadly, how it is to get there   Essentially, the plan should define the organisation’s ‘business model’ – how it will be better than its rivals and …

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The evolution and future of productivity

The Universe is some 15 billion years old, apparently – ‘Big Bang’ followed, some 10 billion years later, spawning Planet Earth – then, over the last 4.5 billion years, life appeared on Earth and a wide variety of species, both flora and fauna, eventually emerged At first, resources needed for their survival – food or sunlight, say …

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Excess regulations and legacy systems solve productivity puzzle?

Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker, says the challenges banks face with regulation and legacy IT systems hold lessons for the wider economy He points out that ‘great minds have been pondering the productivity puzzle – so why, in a time of rapid technological change, is productivity stagnant in many advanced economies?’ The UK has particular …

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