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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National productivity – Current measures

But all these experts base their thinking on available national measures of output and productivity viz: Outputs = GDP = a measure prone to considerable error, full of dubious assumptions and estimates, and becoming increasingly flawed given much output value now goes uncounted as we move from an era of materialism to mentalism – Charlie Bean, economist and …

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Inequality is on the move

The proportion of rich to relatively poor keeps changing as more and more of any nation’s people benefit from the huge productivity gains made since the Agricultural and then Industrial Revolutions which started in the 1700s Clearly, most of the poor in most developed G20 nations are a lot better off than their counterparts in …

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Opioids knock productivity

Janet Yellen, Chair of the US Federal Reserve, considers President Donald Trump’s  growth target of 3% per annum over the next five years to be “quite challenging” At present, the rate slumbers at a mere 0.5%, having been around 2% over the past decade She holds that a major factor holding down productivity growth is …

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Productivity sure aint ‘dull’

The following is a letter sent to the Sunday Times on 17 July, 2017 following an article by Andrew Marr, the broadcaster and journalist, which concludes that ‘productivity is dull’ Productivity has transformed the lives of most people in the UK What were luxuries for a select few a mere 100 years ago, if they even …

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AI becoming mainstream in Retail

Expert systems to aid human and plant maintenance and clever OR (Operations Research) computer models (aka apps) to find optimum solutions to complex business problems have been around for over 50 years now AI (Artificial Intelligence) is just the latest moniker for much the same, albeit more powerful Retail Week recently published an article about …

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