The Productivity Buzz

Inspired by our friends over at The Hive this is our first edition of the Productivity Buzz where I (Adam, the Marketing Assistant over here at Productivity Alberta) will be sharing some of our thoughts on productivity with you. I would love to hear your thoughts and responses so please join the conversation.

Honey bees are incredible in that they are able to communicate in an extremely advanced way. Bees use what is called the “Waggle Dance”, which is a series of figure-eight motions, to communicate to other bees back at the hive exactly which direction, and how long to fly to get to a source of pollen, this is an incredible feat of advanced communication without using language. The Buzz is my way of sharing with you exactly where a good source of “pollen” can be found. Luckily for you, I have the blog and you don’t have to see me dance to share it.

What’s the Buzz?

OECD Econmics Survey: Canada 2012 tells us, and I’m sure it comes as no surprise to many, that Canada is lagging behind the United States in terms of productivity and has been for a while. Actually according to this report we are lagging behind many other countries including Chile, Norway and Israel.

What may come as a surprise is the findings in a new paper from leading Canadian economist Erwin Diewert. The Globe and Mail article Why Canada’s productivity has been underestimated for decades summarizes the report by Diewert.

The world-renowned productivity expert is challenging the process that is being used to calculate multifactor productivity in our country and thinks we have been underestimating our productivity as far back as the 1960s. According to Prof. Diewert and Ms. Yu the main problem comes in Statscan’s overestimation of capital input growth.

Though Diewert and Yu’s paper does not provide a comprehensive solution to our nations productivity issues, it may answer some of the questions as to why we have seen such poor productivity performance for so long with little change over time. The Globe and Mail article quotes Diewert as acknowledging that “his conclusions don’t mean Canadians are necessarily richer than they thought. But he said the numbers could mean a lot to Canadian monetary and fiscal policy going forward.”

Read the Intial Report, the response from Statscan and the rejoinder by Diewart and let me know your opinion in our comments section

Report by Diewart and Yu
Response by Wulong Gu
Rejoinder to Gu on by Diewart

Keep Buzzing

Deloitte recently continued their productivity research and published an extremely informative report. They also put out a short Video that really captures the current state of productivity in Canada.

Some of their findings were:

The future of productivity

Deloitte Canada presents The future of productivity

The Future of Productivity
In the full report they do not just diagnose the problems but also give recommendations on how to improve.

“To meet the urgent demands of the next generations of Canadians, we must develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy as a country. This national vision must rise above the fragmented approach that has historically characterized Canada‚Äôs policy agenda.”

The comprehensive approach they recommend here is referring to a combined effort by Government, Academia, as well as Business.

Productivity: A key to Canadian innovation and prosperity
Again in this Ivy Business Journal article Reid, the author, highlights the challenges and importance of improving productivity in Canada. An aging population and declining labour force are two key elements that make productivity important. But Productivity is generally misunderstood and therefore ignored by business and government alike.

What it all means?

I have spent a lot of time talking about the short-comings of Canada when it comes to Productivity, so where is the light, how can we get better?
Well the three prior articles had some similar themes when it came to improvement:
For government:

  • Provide incentives for growth rather than being small
  • Change incentives to focus more on grants than tax breaks
  • Promote trade and foreign direct investment, improve the immigration system

For academia:

  • Motivate technology transfer from academia by use of better incentives
  • Curriculum development that represents the economic need
  • Reform to tertiary education to help maintain the flow of highly-skilled workers

For business:

  • Keep building – take risks and invest in new capital equipment where appropriate
  • Invest in your people and meeting talent needs
  • Invent and reinvent – innovation provides opportunities and drives growth
  • Most Importantly – start thinking about productivity strategically

Get Involved

Productivity Alberta understands the challenges outlined in these articles and has all the tools to help you understand and start improving.

Get started today. In as little as Four Steps you can start creating a more sustainable, profitable and productive future for your business.

Productivity 101 is a great way to start the conversation and start thinking strategically about productivity and the competitive advantage it can lend your business.

The Productivity Assessment Tool can give you an understanding of exactly where the opportunities areas are in your business.

Create better relationships with your suppliers and partners through our Supply Chain Collaboration program, or learn how to strategically manage and implement new technology projects through our ICT Adoption program.

Our Operational Excellence department can work with you on all aspects of your business starting with an on-site assessment and carrying through to the full implementation of your projects.

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