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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ChatGPT – The next General Purpose Technology?

Sean Speer, writing in California’s ‘The Hub’, claims ChatGPT’s emergence offers the hope of a more productive future – he says these new AI technologies could finally break our economies out of stagnation and kick-start real growth – Robert Solow and Robert Gordon, amongst many others, have already pointed out that GPT gains take many …

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Big Bad Data Is Sapping Your Team’s Productivity

A useful article on the importance of data quality, published in the Harvard Business Review and written by Thomas C. Redman, aka the ‘Data Doc’, President of Data Quality Solutions. Data science was supposed to create a new productivity boom but, for many companies, that boom never arrived. What’s gone wrong? While companies have invested …

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How to Answer America’s Productivity Slump

At long last, Erica Gunn, writing in Inc.com, focuses on how most of the current ‘productivity puzzle’ which baffles our leaders could be resolved – not by government ministers and economists at the macro level, who indeed have a role to play but only impact some 20% of the total picture – but by managers …

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Public sector productivity – TPI reports

A report by The Productivity Institute unveils urgent recommendations to raise public sector productivity through focusing on outcomes and identifying bottlenecks for improvement – but one is left wondering what individual  public sector managers would actually do tomorrow as a result – and also thinking the claimed £1.8bn benefits on offer are paltry compared with …

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Elon Musk’s rules of ‘insane productivity’

Like many others, Ariana Baio lists Elon Musk’s six rules of ‘insane productivity’ in indy100.com which Musk sent to all his Twitter employees – they make good sense, as far as they go, albeit they’re sure not silver bullets for becoming super super rich – but then he applies his old-school Theory X man-management views, …

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Train in Vain?

An important article from the Resolution Foundation and their Economy 2030  project studying skills, tasks, and training in the UK labour market – written byNye Cominetti, Rui Costa, Andrew Eyles, Kathleen Henehan, and Sandra McNally – human capital and skills are important for improving the UK’s labour market and economic performance – they  assess how the skills needed in …

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Wellbeing – Why Does It Matter?

Some may find the following offers useful food for thought, others consider it just commonsense and a tad long – Gallup are advertising their modestly titled ‘advanced global research and advice’ for understanding an organisation’s wellbeing needs, prioritising interventions and creating meaningful change –  wellbeing is certainly a topic of interest gaining momentum in the …

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An AI productivity boom is coming

Here’s what to consider as AI and machine learning become omnipresent, according to MIT Sloan researchers, visiting scholars, and industry experts. Artificial intelligence is changing most occupations, but it is far from replacing humans, according to a book examining the findings of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future. Some 92% of large …

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Don’t fear robots

An article by George Elmaraghy  in the Akron Beacon Journal makes one think he’s already read, and agreed with, our latest book ‘Productivity Knowhow’ Revisited  Robots may be the answer to worker shortages Robots have been around for decades. For most of their history, they were perceived as awkward mechanical devices used in factory assembly lines …

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Stretching police productivity

A new report from across the pond by Police Chief Joel F. Shults proposes the incorporation of auxiliary private security agents in non-core areas such as administration and other ancillary tasks so as to provide the public with a better police service and vastly improve current charge rates for more serious crime What are the …

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Could AI solve the UK’s productivity problem?

According to Ryan Morrison in Tech Monitor, automating repetitive tasks could boost Britain’s output, but MPs were told this week workers must be protected UK productivity has remained relatively static for the past 15 years with minimal growth compared to countries like China and the US. The cause is up for debate, but many experts …

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How becoming a kinder version of yourself boosts productivity

My wife, Rhona, once said: “There’s no downside to being kind” and I quoted her at the start of ‘Productivity Knowhow’ Revisited, little realising the impact that kindness might have on productivity – until this article just published in ‘Fast Company’ by Stephanie Vozza – and apologies upfront to those anti her use of 4-letter …

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Ditch ‘costly, restrictive’ skills list for migrants to help speed up economy

A practical common-sense solution emerges from down under and the Oz Productivity Commission – written up by Shane Wright in the Sydney Morning Herald   The skills shortage list for migrants would be ditched and businesses given the right to bring workers from overseas at higher wages under a proposal the Productivity Commission believes would …

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Computer Saturation and the Productivity Slowdown

A very interesting article follows, written by Pablo Azar and just published by Liberty Street Economics – especially as it supports the view expressed in our new book ‘Productivity Knowhow’ Revisited that “it’s the mix of resources and methods used” that determines most of productivity levels achieved, not the individual  inputs themselves – a view …

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‘Ocean forests’ counter global warming

Seaweed forests face threats from marine heatwaves and climate change – but they may also hold part of the answer, with their ability to grow quickly and sequester carbon, according to Albert Pessarrodona Silvestre, Karen Filbee-Dexter andThomas Wernberg from The University of Western Australia, in an article in The Conversation © Helen Walne Like other plants, seaweeds grow by …

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Turning Around The Productivity Slowdown

Kweilin Ellingrud, a director of the MGI – McKinsey Global Institute – contributes good sense in an article for Forbes.com as she skims over many of the big productivity issues facing most developed economies nowadays, not just the USA   We live in a world of instant streaming, overnight delivery, and smart devices. Technological advances …

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Britain faces crises in energy and productivity

Britain faces crises in energy and productivity, both of which have been crushing people’s living standards. Anna Valero and John Van Reenen write that the endemic short-termism of the public and private sectors needs to be reversed, so that barriers to investment can be addressed. For them, the UK is in urgent need of a new economic …

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Increasing productivity won’t lead to higher wages, it’ll just increase corporate profits

BERNARD KEANE highlights the ‘ticking time bomb’ that is the global disparity between company profiteering and wage growth in an article published by smartcompany.com.au   If Australia’s Productivity Commission really wants to link productivity to higher wages, it should look at the market power of corporations. The most important part of the Productivity Commission’s interim …

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Why Isn’t New Technology Making Us More Productive?

Innovations like cloud computing and artificial intelligence are hailed as engines of a coming productivity revival. But a broad payoff across the economy has been elusive according to Steve Lohr, writing in the New York Times For years, it has been an article of faith in corporate America that cloud computing and artificial intelligence will …

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The universal ‘S curve’

A splendid ‘big picture’ article by Eben Bayer, published by Forbes Business magazine and entitled ‘Get Ready For An Explosion Of Productivity In Biotechnology’ – it clearly shows how the ‘S curve’ applies to the life and times of just about everything – think humans, empires, computers, products, fads, services, machines, companies, economies – so …

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The ticking time bomb at work

Top executives and capitalists might support ‘levelling up’ but should hang their heads in shame after reading the following important article by Rithika Ramamurthy, Economic Justice Editor at Nonprofit Quarterly, entitled ‘Owning Our Labor: Productivity, Profits, and Power’ If you performed a task at four times the rate of productivity, shouldn’t you receive four times …

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It’s time for business to end its Faustian pact with autocrats

A worthy article in Fortune.com Commentary says ‘the risks of doing business with autocrats should be front of mind for every multinational in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’ – written by David Kamenetzky, a past member of the executive committee of Mars and a former chairman of JAB Investors, and Leopoldo López, a …

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Wealth of nations via TFP?

Why are some nations rich, others poor – and what does it mean for future prosperity? Amitrajeet Batabyal, Professor of Economics at Rochester Institute of Technology, and writing for ‘The Conversation US‘, argues that TFP is not an academic construct comprising ‘magic fairy dust’, as the Bank of England once claimed, but highly significant for …

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Faster productivity growth would solve many problems

Macro level productivity pearls, published in the Financial Post and penned by William Robson, CEO of the C. D. Howe Institute. which have a direct read-across from Canada to many other developed nations, especially the UK Canadians are beset by economic problems. Inflation is hammering their purchasing power. Forecasters are predicting weak, if any, growth …

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Inflation: there’s a vital way to reduce it that everyone overlooks – raise productivity

David McMillan, Professor in Finance at the University of Stirling and writing for the WEF – World Economic Forum – offers his thoughts on the current economic situation Inflation has become one of the great issues of our times. The UK’s is the highest in the G7, weighing in at 9% a year according to the most …

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Unions can be good for labor and business

I well remember the 70s, the days of ‘Red Robbo’ who destroyed the British owned car industry with outrageous, incessant strikes for more totally unjustified pay rises – and sitting around a boardroom table whilst the Union reps led the meeting and the CEO wld just sit there and dare not disagree – so read …

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How does South Korea surpass Japan in real GDP per capita?

Richard Katz, a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, draws a few lessons from the growth experience of South Korea versus Japan over the last several years which could provide useful guidelines for the UK and others A major geoeconomic event occurred in 2018 when South Korea’s real GDP per capita …

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Capital Spending Boom Helps Raise Productivity

David Harrison, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says spending on technology has soared as businesses adjust to higher wages and remote WFH    American businesses are ramping up technology investment and other capital spending as they emerge from the pandemic. If sustained, that investment boom could boost productivity and living standards and counteract inflation pressure. …

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Productivity is key to “levelling up”

In an article for Prospect magazine, Adrian Pabst, a professor of politics at the University of Kent, claims  HMG’s current initiatives for ‘levelling up’ are somewhat half-hearted . Pabst is also the author of ‘The Demons of Liberal Democracy (Polity)’ and Deputy Director (Social and Political Economy) at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research The government’s White Paper sets out …

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Five Days a Week in the Office? It’s Better for Everyone.

Allison Schrager makes several good points against 100% WFH – she is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk.” After a year of Zoom meetings and awkward virtual happy hours, New York’s youngest aspiring financiers …

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