Productivity is the problem child of UK business

The UK ranks 31st out of 35 for productivity.

The UK is at the bottom of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in growth of output per hour from 2008–2017.

Our productivity hasn’t improved since the last recession. Experts have called this the ‘Productivity Puzzle.’

What would productivity actually mean to you…

In 2015, Professor Jon Van Reenen said that if Brits were as productive as German and French workers, they could work a 4-day week and still earn the same £.

Thanks to the global pandemic, the Productivity Puzzle remains unsolved.

Have you been more productive working…

It’s half-term so this post is about school.

What can we learn from kids creativity?

I reckon we can learn and unlearn a lot…

The hotbed of creativity

Want to visit a hotbed of creativity? ♨️

Forget marketing agencies or Silicon Valley start-ups — visit a primary school.

It’s half-term, kids are bringing home their projects.

If you don’t have kids, cast your mind back…

  • Space rockets made out of cereal boxes and egg cartons.
  • Bright paintings packed with colour, pinned to the fridge.
  • Animals built from yoghurt pots and pipe cleaners.

In the case of my daughter, it was a volcano made from leftover Amazon packaging (see above)

The skills you can’t work without.

Companies looking to ‘innovate’ should go back to primary school rather…

One morning in early January 2009, I walked out of my house and headed for the library around the corner. Lily Allen’s ‘Fear’ was playing in my ears through my iPod.

It was a miserable time of year. The economy was in freefall. Experts still didn’t know ‘where the bottom of the market was’. The world was on its ass. I was rock bottom too. I’d lost my job and had racked-up huge debts thanks to a failed business venture. I was missing the perks of a full-time job — the salary, mobile phone and a computer. So I was off to use the library PC and WiFi.

The library had two PCs that you could use for 20 mins. On that morning, one PC was not working, so the library…

Village greens, seat belts and why we struggle to think about the future.

Long Melford Green. Source:

According to a poll by Savills, the estate agents, Long Melford is the seventh most desirable UK village to live in.

Long Melford owes its existence to Suffolk’s wool trade that started in the middle ages. The village has beautiful buildings that reflect the wealth of the merchants who once lived there.

Long Melford lies between Bury St. Edmunds and Sudbury. If you drive through the village from the east, you’ll travel down one of the longest high streets in the UK. You’ll pass bakeries, antique shops, pubs, butchers and towards the end, you drive past The Bull Hotel, a beautiful timber-framed building built in 1450.

Carry on…

How to research your customers and build a better business.

Just imagine the scenario… for weeks and months, you’ve poured your heart and soul into your new idea, and you’re down to the moment of launch. Excitement builds as you press the buttons:

  • Emails — sent
  • Website — published
  • Campaigns — live

Now you wait. And wait. The anticipation is killing you.

Then nothing. Silence. No traction. No sales. No interest. Zilch.

Your world slowly unravels in front of you. The blood, sweat and tears hurt. Was it all for nothing? What happened? Where do you go next?

Now wake…

How artists can teach us to better understand audiences

Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels

Our communities are full of different people. Some look like you and me, some don’t.

If you‘re a’ ‘people watcher’, you’ll notice the traits and quirks that make humans different. You’re not creepy — just an observer of what makes us all tick. That is a valuable skill. If you’re in marketing, you might group these people into segments.

Perhaps you label them the ‘target audience’. But, as those segments grow, it’s less about people — more about ‘data’. Dashboards get built and slowly, the invisible barriers go up.

Big data is great, but the price is anonymity.

To get meaning from the data, we have to use numbers. I don’t know about you, but I forget numbers––but names and faces stick with me…

Photo of Nye Bevan
Photo of Nye Bevan
Nye Bevan above. His famous quote below. Image credit: BBC

Is the truth something personal or universal? Can we even handle it? Is it even worth it in a post-truth world?

The truth hurts. That’s why we avoid it. Confronting truth can be so painful that we put things in the way to cushion the blow.

Al Gore summed this conflict up neatly in the title of his Oscar-winning documentary, ‘An inconvenient Truth’.

Let’s face it: the truth IS inconvenient.

At times, truth is an irritant to the status quo. Gore’s film certainly stirred up the orthodox view of the environmental agenda. His movie was released in 2006. Since then, the ecological movement has marched on. Greta Thunberg has made her mark. A climate emergency has been declared.

But still, others…

How we validate ourselves and our business ideas.

Illustration of eyeballs staring at viewer on yellow background
Illustration of eyeballs staring at viewer on yellow background

Westover Road is a long, grand road that runs through the middle of Bournemouth — a seaside town on the south coast of the UK.

The road heads away from the sea, past the cinema, casino, and a hotel where The Beatles once stayed. The road hits a fork. Left down to the square and right up towards the church as it turns into Gervis Place. Just before the church on the right-hand side, is a cupcake shop. Years before it was a shoe shop called Jones.

One day I was walking past Jones the shoe shop, it was having a closing down sale. One thing caught my eye. …

4 years ago almost to the day, my day lost his battle with cancer.

We never had a chance to say goodbye. It was a conversation I don’t think he wanted to have. But the last thing he did was wink at me. It was his way of acknowledging the parting.

He died in a beautiful hospice called Forest Holme. It’s full of the most incredible and wonderful people ever to walk this earth.

It was the end of a wretched time for Dad and all of us.

Pancreatic Cancer is hard to diagnose and almost impossible to treat.

And so it was that way with my Dad.

One early September Monday in hospital…

Illustration of 2 speech bubble characters having a chat with each other
Illustration of 2 speech bubble characters having a chat with each other

Are our lives getting back to normal? Can we begin to be social again?

‘Social Currency’ is a valuable concept to build on as we emerge from the bunker mentality that Covid-19 has forced upon us.

Social Currency describes the validations we seek and crave from our fellow humans.

As lockdown lifts, some of us are starting to see people again. We need to. We are social creatures. We get huge amounts of value and validation from being ‘social’.

The holy grail of marketing 🏆

Getting your product or service recommended by word of mouth (WOM)?

In order to do that, you need to get your message into a network of people. Not any old Tom, Dick or Harry. …

George Beverley

I write about insights, design thinking and digital miscellany. Subscribe

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