Strategies for improving productivity, Operation Management

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Strategies for Improving Productivity

Attempts to improve the productivity of an organisation require the manager to become involved in the management of change. Without the ability to change the areas which require improvement the productivity improvement process cannot function. This management of change requires the manager to be able to cope with the dynamics of the situation whilst remaining organised and planned enough to convince staff that despite the number of variables under modification, the end result is worth achieving. The contrary is also true, since in certain situations where managers encounter resistance to proposals, they may well have to be ruthless in the execution of their task through the imposition of executive authority upon those reluctant to become involved. The systems approach to management,  can be used to the organisation's advantage by helping to focus management attention not only on the process under their control, but also on the inputs and outputs to their own sub-system - the aspects under their charge which will be included in the productivity assessment.

The dynamics of the situation require managers not only to motivate their staff, but to be constantly looking for new and better ways to carry out the transformation task or minimise the input whilst maximising the system output. The dynamics also require them to remain abreast of the technology at their disposal to improve output. As with the overall management of the organisation, the improvement of the productivity of the firm requires managers to have a strategy which may be used to cope with the hurdles of both human resource management and technology. In most respects, there is little difference between the introduction of a strategy for productivity and any other company strategy. Both require the adoption of sound systems-like approaches along with the formal identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the organisation.

The keyword of flexibility (of strategy) remains paramount, since the strategy is the decision-base to be used in the determination of objectives, procedures, policies and, as such, it must be possible to clearly state the definition of the productivity improvement process, explain why improvement is required, analyse the current system status, propose 'models of excellence' and to be able to develop improvement policies and plans. As with corporate strategies, the productivity strategy may at the high level be expressed in broad, general terms which must then be broken down to the unit level to allow more detailed resource allocation and commitment. The actual techniques used in the execution of productivity improvement programmes tend to be aimed at both collection of information and increasing the effectiveness of work. In general terms, these techniques fall into two categories: either technically- based quantitative methods - such as work study or value analysis, or behavioural methods which will now be briefly described. Three main behavioural techniques are used in productivity improvement: organisation development (OD), brainstorming and force-field analysis. Or a combination of both such as TQM and focused improvement programmes.


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