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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BA put customers last

BA – British Airways – was once state-owned and nicknamed ‘Bloody Awful’ Then, in the 80s under Lord King and Colin Marshall, it transformed itself into the ‘World’s Favourite Airline’, not least by delivering the now-famous PPF (Putting People First) course to all staff, some 200 at a time, who assembled at upmarket venues such …

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If productivity so vital, why not measured?

Capita recently surveyed 250 managers and 250 workers across a range of UK industries including retail, logistics and construction They found a ‘huge disconnect’ between the number of managers who feel productivity is important and those who actually measure it Key findings were: Just 32% of bosses feel their business is very productive yet 71% …

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Political parties’ productivity plans

Productivity is the biggest peacetime issue facing all UK political parties Annual improvements are vital if living standards and average earnings are to be raised – so what did their recent manifestos say about it? Conservative party manifesto – essentially ‘to grow the national wealth pie’: Introduce a National Productivity Investment Fund – spend £23 …

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National productivity positions built on sand

I read an article about Chinese productivity posted by Bloomberg journalist Michael Schuman and sent him the following email: Michael, I read your article about Chinese productivity with great interest The first step in any major productivity improvement drive is indeed to establish the current position – where are you now? Most ‘expert’ commentators try to do …

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CEOs rate potential of new technology ‘very low’!

A new Gartner survey of 388 CEOs/ senior executives found they rated as “very low” the potential for productivity improvement from new breakthrough technologies such as IoT, AI, blockchain (secure databases) and 3D printing In particular, when asked for their ‘top enabling technology for improving productivity’: Only 2% chose IoT – and only 1% picked either …

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