Productivity in economic terms is essentially, Total Outputs / Total Inputs.
Singapore has been very good at squeezing the “inputs”, and therefore the Singapore worker’s reaction to the renewed Productivity focus is expected, they have been shouldering much of the Productivity pain so far. But extraordinary Productivity gains can only be achieved by increasing demand for value added outputs.
One good Singapore example is Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines created a new standard of in-flight experience through the original idea of Asian Hospitality. They fully committed to the idea, and 30 years on are reaping the rewards as one of the most profitable airlines in the world.
Unfortunately beyond Singapore Airlines there are few examples of a Singapore company committing to an original idea. Others have rather opted for improving on the ideas of other pioneers. These “fast followers” soon find themselves in stiff price competiiton with other players.
Beyond firms, one could argue that the Singapore Government is a highly “productive” or “innovative” entity. They have re-written the role of government in shaping the economic future of a country. While some solutions such as the “integrated resorts” are not unique to Singapore, it is the high level of speed and competence in the way these ideas are implemented that makes them so original for a government. Others such as Dubai have emulated the highly centralised Economic policies of the Singapore government.
Productivity in a Singapore context is going to require an overhaul of business, from driving excellence in fast following and process and efficiency productivity to some truly original thinking.
Productivity for business Leaders means they need to start creating environments conducive to the exchange of new ideas.
There are some glimmers of hope. Here are some of my favourite original business ideas from Singapore, interesting to note most are in the retail and service domain:
– Chocolate Research Facility – a new chocolate experience with a large dose of design
– Hug your sorrow – soft huggable toys for those feeling a little sad.
– Quincy Hotel : a hotel in Singapore which offers an all-expenses-covered stay. And unlike all-in beach resorts aimed at holidaymakers, Quincy is a city hotel targeting business (and leisure) travellers.
– Nanyang Optical a retail chain has recently begun an eco-conversion of its brand through which it will sell only eyewear brands that are significantly green.
If you discover any original idea please drop me a note.