Honesty and management

So often we talk on this site about things that could be better managed, or policies which have gone wrong. Yesterday I visited a factory in England which was so well run. So today I want to talk about how well we can make things in Britain, and to ask what was so good about what I saw.

The one word which kept coming into my mind as I watched and listened to my hosts was honesty. They called it transparency. The Plant Manager said his office was a glass box near the production lines. It meant he walked through the production area to get to his office, so all the team could see him and he could talk to them on his way in. They could see him at work, and he was accessible to them if problems arose. He shared the restaurant and other facilities with all other employees. He is accountable hourly for what he does and what the whole team achieves. The output and quality achievements were set out clearly with named responsiblities. That set the standard. Everything that matters is measured. Everything has an agreed minimum standard. Everything that goes wrong is managed. Someone is responsible for everything that matters.

The culture was not defensive about mistakes. Complete honesty requires a can do, will fix approach. They don’t have time for recriminations – they identify the problem, analyse its origins, fix it and then fix it permanently  to ensure they cannot make that mistake in future. You cannot manage unless you measure. You cannot manage unless you have a full flow of information about all the important sources of success.

Each year they expect a 6% improvement in efficiency and build that into their plans. They recycle everything they can, they create a clean and pleasant working environment, treat their employees with respect and pay well for good performance. Their absentee rate is low and staff morale visibly good. They automate many processes and use technology to handle parts and finished product.

In the British establishment  some seem to think honesty is the currency of fools. They are concerned if people are too honest. They think it abrupt,”too direct”, insensitive or downright stupid. Yet wherever I have seen and studied excellence, as I did yesterday, I find honesty and superior performance are usually in  a stable relationship. There were many public sector managers I would like to have heard what I heard yesterday. The gap between the best and the worst managements is getting ever bigger.

As some of you rightly tell me,  there are good managers in the public sector and bad managers in  the private sector, as well as the other way round. The point I am making is the extent of the ambition amongst the best. No-one in this factory thought cutting costs by 6% next year was incompatible with cutting error, raising quality, recycling more or having better staff conditions and relations. They showed that you need all these things to be moving together. If you have fewer errors you waste less. If you solve problems your production line can go faster. If you produce more you can pay more.

If instead you think you need more resource to do anything better, that your performance is good in the circumstances, that errors are unavoidable given your staffing levels, and that systems and processes cannot be improved, then you will underperform. If you refuse to measure your performance, or refuse to discuss the figures you have in an intelligent and objective way, you will not be able to manage well.

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49 Comments

  1. Alte Fritz
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    The word in “transparency” in public debate usually means looking for an excuse to hit someone. In this factory, transparency seems to have meant that no one need hide anything through fear.

    That is impressive not least because it is rare.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      It is rare because due to a parasitic state taking 50+% of your profits in tax, huge over regulation and expensive energy it is rarely worth investing your profits back in the UK. Just take them and invest them somewhere else where you are actually welcome – clearly that is what the government is indicating you should do by their actions – and if you don’t you will be put out of business by the lower cost base competition anyway.

      • lola
        Posted January 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        It’s not 50% ‘of your profits’, it’s 100% of your earnings. That is to keep £100 you must earn £200. That’s the problem.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Good luck with your race to the bottom.

  2. Steve Cox
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    To my mind, John, the moral in this tale is not so much apposite to the manufacturing sector as it should be to the public sector. One obvious part of that sector that probably fails to apply a single one of the lessons to be learnt from this company’s management is the BoE and its MPC. Do you suppose that Mervyn King sits in a glass cubicle, easily accessible to one and all? Does he eat in the same staff canteen as the clerks and typists? Does the BoE’s management learn from its mistakes, and does it have a policy of open honesty with one and all? No, no, no, and no. Perhaps that is why it has abjectly failed to meet its inflation target for – what is it now – 40 of the last 48 months? I can’t think of any private sector organisation that would tolerate the BoE’s pathetic performance, not just in losing control of inflation but also in failing to foresee the impending financial crisis (indeed, in many ways of stoking the fires that caused it). It must be time to take a clean broom to the whole edifice, get rid of all the underperformers and change the culture to one of achieving the targets that are set by the bosses, or else you will be out of the door. Yet what is the Treasury doing? Giving an already overpaid underachieving organisation vast new powers of regulation. This does not bode well for us. I’m not saying that the proposed redistribution of regulatory powers is wrong, simply that the current people in charge of the BoE are NOT the right ones to entrust these powers to. Your story should be required reading for Messrs. King and Bean.

    • StrongholdBarricades
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Or walk into any council offices, job centres, town hall

      Where are the managers? At the back out of sight generally.

      I also believe that this company is an aberration, and you don’t actually mention the age of the guy that runs this company, but I do recall my parents saying that when they went to visit the bank to pay in monies or ask for a service they had to walk past the manager’s office

      Honesty, open doors and transparency is a culture, one where people need to know that whistle blowers are rewarded, and transgressors (eg MP Eric Illsley) are removed at the earliest opportunity, but it is alos important to recognise that open doors allow personal progression.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Hang about.

      If CPI inflation moves by more than 1% either side of the 2% target set by the Chancellor, then the Governor has to write an open letter of explanation to the Chancellor.

      Those letters, and the replies from the Chancellor, are here:

      http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/inflation.htm

      When I look at the Chancellor’s reply to the most recent letter, that for last November:

      http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/chx_letter_161110.pdf

      I don’t see Osborne upbraiding King for the failure to meet the CPI target, in fact he seems to be more or less repeating the explanation King has given and agreeing with it.

  3. A.Sedgwick
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    There was a telling article in The Times recently by Matthew Paris who wrote in essence that most politicians and more so those in government were dishonest(not financially). In private they echoed the opinions of the public but gave up the fight in office and in parliament. Afghanistan, immigration, crime and the EU are prime examples. There are many day to day examples appearing in the news where changes should be made but the Westminster village trundles on in its own manyana world. We are currently witnessing yet again the nonsense that is the House of Lords over the voting reform bill where it seems political honesty and reality is in short supply.

  4. Dave
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    You’ve just beautifully highlighted the difference between the public and private sector. Having worked on both sides, I noticed something very similar.

    In the private sector there is an understanding that if the company suffers, then everyone does. It creates a sense of camaraderie that leads to everyone pulling together for the greater good. Those that do not pull their weight do not last long.

    In the public sector, with it’s powerful unions, I found that everyone is out to look after number 1. Who cares how efficiently the department operates, as long ad at 5pm each day you take home your inflated salary, and you get your above-inflation pay rise each year?

    Everyone I know who has worked in the public sector says the same thing: they just don’t have that much to do, or they get swamped with meaningless red tape.

    Obviously there will be exceptions to this, and I only commenting based on personal experience, but what I am trying to highlight is that many are aware of the attitudes in the public sector, but being aware of if and sorting it out are two very different things.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Good to see an MP visit a manufacturing plant and be aware of whats going on, and not just stare open eyed, but completely lost, as so many do on TV.

    You are correct, honesty is vital, and so is the human touch, things like a decent restaurant or canteen, where everyone can go for a decent lunch break if they want one, remembering staff birthdays, family problems (without getting too involved) and above all, a simple good morning or afternoon by acknowledging the staff members by name as you pass by.

    Many years ago, many larger manufacturing organisations used to run extensive Social clubs, which provided bonding opportunities, especially when in competition with other outside businesses. Some Companies (the very large ones)even had extensive sports facilities, with football, cricket and tennis teams.
    Yes they did cost money to run, but were appreciated by most workers who were involved.

    A good business attempts to build teamwork and loyalty to the Company within its workforce, and if done correctly it is then usually easier to achive the required results.

    Its a simple balance of making the targets and rules clear, and above all possible at the outset, and to give encouragement using a mixture of carrots and some sticks.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Alan

      You are right. It is to the eternal shame of left wing politicians that they introduced a tax regime that make things like sports club, gym and non work clubs and activities taxable as benefits in kind thereby rendering these things uneconomic for the workers.

      I was once informed by my accountants that a large bouquet of flowers and some chocolates presented to an employee for a job well done should be entered on their P11D !! Not sure how true that is , but I buy gifts like that for my staff out of my own personal money now just to avoid the situation

      • lola
        Posted January 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Me too.

  6. James
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    And what about public sector managers that get it right!? Your description of this factory is impressive, and let’s be honest, remarkable for the fact that readers know it is more of an exception than the norm in the private sector. Why do you think the public sector would be any different? Especially when they get abused and demeaned in the media day after day by your political colleagues (see Pickles constant criticism of local authorities).

    I like the sound of the factory you describe, I would love all workplaces to be like that, but the most disorganised, incompetent and inefficient workplace I have been an employee at was the private sector. The second worst, the private sector. I have also been employed in terrible public sector organisations, so I have reached the conclusion that generally speaking, most managers don’t have a clue how to manage (and that includes politicians who are meant to manage the country) and that we would all be better off if we had more sole traders and freelancers – people work much better when they are working for themselves.

    • AKM
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      James: “…most managers don’t have a clue how to manage… …we would all be better off if we had more sole traders and freelancers – people work much better when they are working for themselves.”

      100% agreed, that has also been my experience and I agree with your conclusion. In my case, most of the managers concerned may well have been fine if they had been allowed to get on with it by themselves, but they had very little power individually with higher levels of management & HR reducing them to little more than report and spreadsheet writers.

  7. lifelogic
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    The main problem with the public sector is it is not their money and they do not really care how it is spent (or even how efficiently it is spent) so long as it keeps the bosses happy and the staff have fun spending it.

    Many grant giving quangos spend fortunes on image, logos, trade names, team building weekends with famous guests and the like when, as they are just giving out money, could call themselves almost anything without putting any applicants off.

    The only control is the voters through government and politicians and that is so weak and distant as to be almost useless. So these organisation continue to be incontinent with money and often just become tax raising for their own benefit often inventing ways of raising funds by setting up systems actually designed to make the public default and get fined (DVLA SORN etc.) Speed cameras located at the only safe point to go fast for miles just as the limit is reduced on a down hill section.

    Parking, bus lanes and late or misfiling penalties being another prime example.

    As an example a surgeon I know was fined for doing 34 in a 30 limit on his way to an emergency operation on a child. They wrote to explain and were told they could go to court to explain or go on an “education course” instead but as both these would have cancelled several other urgent operations they just had to pay up and take the points and pay more insurance too. What does the country want £90 or 5 urgent operations on children?

    Almost all of the countless letters and demands I get from the state divert me doing other more important and useful things for my businesses which would increase profits, tax take and benefit all involved. Just halve them by firing half the state sector now please.

    • Simon
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      “What does the country want £90 or 5 urgent operations on children? ”

      Lifelogic , that pretty much sums it up to me .

      I’d rather they dropped all these pretences about safety and everything else and just lumped it in our direct taxes .

      Have a word with your friend too . He should have been doing at least 50mph on the way to treat a child .

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 16, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        It was in central London where, due to many deliberate government road obstructions it is hard even to get up to 34 mph.

  8. Richard
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Having spent most of my working life in manufacturing industry, I can say that there is a gap between the best and worst companies even within this sector.
    However, the less efficient ones don’t last long due to fierce levels of competition. Those companies left in world manufacturing today are mainly like the one you had the pleasure of visiting.
    It would be possible to replicate a culture of efficiency, excellence, quality and honesty in the Public sector.
    The management techniques and methods are well known and could be applied but it would require some radical action to change the current culture and a determination to face up to organised and hostile opposition from all the various vested interest groups.
    The problem is that it would take more than the length of one Parliament to show significant improvements.

    Is there any real desire to among Politicians and top Public sector management to make the radical changes that are needed?

    Public sector organisations suffers from what those of us who work in the competitive sector refer to as “The Curse of OPM” where OPM stands for other peoples money.
    OPM is always much easier to spend and much easier to waste and generates about half the output value as spending your own money.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps as much as half the output, only in the good cases, but often what they think of as “output” is nothing useful anyway or worse just an inconvenience to taxpayers anyway.

  9. Bill
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Total candour – in business and in life, enormous amounts of time are saved just by telling it as it is.

    Industry does need to attract the best, the brightest graduates (into just the small and medium sized outfits, the big ones already do) – too often in the past the best go into other professions – like accountancy.

  10. Robert George
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    The problem with public sector management management is that is is obsessed with process and not results.

    Changing from the former to the latter is not difficult but a side effect is the cleansing away of vast tracts of middle management who have no interest or competence with respect to outcomes. They do however have a vast interest in the status quo

  11. John Bowman
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    “As some of you rightly point out there are good managers in the public sector and bad managers in the private sector, as well as the other way round. ”

    The difference being bad managers in the private sector usually get fired; in the public sector they usually get rewarded.

  12. Bazman
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ve honestly got to tell you that if you don’t work for the wages of eastern Europeans we will send the factory to Eastern Europe which is what we will do after you agree to train them.
    The government has changed the law for unfair dismissal from one year to two so it’s out the door for all of you without any money. Thanks for your loyalty have a Cadbury cream egg.

  13. waramess
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    We are an advanced nation and we are capable of high quality performance however the larger the state is allowed to become the smaller our private sector becomes so that our economy becomes more dependent on the performance of the state and less dependent on the performance of the private sector.

    The performance of our public sector is abysmal and the shrinkage of our private sctor is illustrated by the decline of the Northern cities and their growing dependence on the State for their continued existence, and there lies our problem: the politicians and the public sector will not give up easily that for which they have fought over the past fifty and more years and the private sector simply goes elsewhere in order to find a better place to start a business.

    Just look at our steady growth over the past fifty years to appreciate that the electronic revolution and our oil revenues have achieved only a fraction of the advantage we might have anticipated.

    Yes, we have outstanding performers in our society but they are now expected to continue to thrive in an enviroment where the public sector consumes fifty five percent of everything produced. How many more outstanding performers might we have had if public sector consumption was not so outrageously ravenous?

  14. Daedalus
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I have worked all my life in industry of one sort or another and it is normal to make cuts and change the way you work, BUT at the same time making huge increases in outcomes. An example from the early 90’s, over 18 months my engineering department lost 12 out of 16 engineering managers. The remaining 4 of us cut budgets, increased efficiency and reduced the costs of maintenance and energy whilst at the same time increased production by 15%. My staff all knew what they needed to do, how to do it, when to do it and why to do it, it left me able to look at the longer term issues and what else we could do to improve things at the same time using the experience of my staff to maximum effect. This can be done ANYWHERE, the sooner local government and indeed Whitehall start to do the same the better. I bet you could reduce the numbers in most of it by 50% and still provide a better front line service. The more people you have the harder it is to manage; you end up employing more people to manage the managers.
    The example I gave above was of a site that closed in 1996 after being bought out, as there where two other sites quite near that the purchasing company already owned. Coincidentally I am now doing some contract work on one of those sites, I was astonished to find that they were no further on with team building, continuous improvement or all the other things we took for granted 15 years ago. They are trying to change but it is an uphill struggle, but the important thing is they are trying and succeeding. It is hard to make the change from the way you always did it, there is a lot of pain to go through but it is well worth it in the end. “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”

    Daedalus

  15. mart
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    With just a few years of cutting costs by 6 percent, you’ll have zero costs!

    What vision!

    No, actually, unless there is real understanding of what is waste, and what is necessary cost, naming your annual saving upfront can easily be counter-productive.

    You have to know there is 6 percent saving to be made, before declaring it should be made. Hopefully that was indeed the case in the firm where you were.

    • Simon
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Quite Mart .

      Also , I’d like to take issue with this obsession with measuring .

      Basically it only works in really simple scenarios when things are easy to measure . For a creative endeavors measurement does not work .

      The progress is on an ordinal scale , ie a ranking , it allows you to determine whether you are going forwards or backwards .

      It’s not on an interval scale so you cannot say after completing milestone 2 that you have gone twice as far as milestone 1 or more importantly how much further you have got to go . You cannot do any meaningful maths or statistical analysis on it but that doesn’t stop the ignorant trying .

      When I was a programmer we were sometimes judged on the most meaningless of “metrics” eg “lines of code” (LOC) .

      My personal specialism is database design . Everybody thinks they understand it but in truth there will be less than 10,000 people worldwide who really do .

      The public sector will certainly NOT be improved by a culture of measurement . Those civil servants in Westminster will work out how to game it in less than a week .

      Worse still for those who cannot see past the pointlessness of measuring , it will become like crack cocaine .
      They will be playing straight into the hands of all the consultancies whose businesses are built on introducing delaying and extending tactics like “metrics” .

      • Richard
        Posted January 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        I agree with what you say -targets are often the cause of problems rather than the solution to them.

        I think the answer is to concentrate on the customer and to focus on their requirements

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Mart

      “With just a few years of cutting cost by 6% you will have Zero costs”

      Not correct, as in year two you would only save 6% 0f 94% of original costs, then the year after, 6% of 90.36% then the year after, 6% of 84.9384% of the original cost, etc, etc, you will never get to Zero, no matter how many years you cut.

      • mart
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Alan,

        Thanks for the lesson in maths. I will not argue about the maths, as it is not central to the argument about how much can or should be saved each year.

        My point is, it is not sensible to declare in year 1 that you will save X percent of costs in (say) year 3, 4, and 5.

        Years 3, 4 and 5 might be a time of big change – more staff, more orders, extra specialist equipment purchases.

        Etcetera.

        All I was hoping to say as an alternative was: identify real efficiency improvements for the coming period, and the cost/benefit of those improvements. Then do them.

  16. lola
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Capitalism as it works best. Doing more for less every day. Why does this factory do that? Because it knows if it doesn’t its competitor will. And as you saw it is rewarding and, dare I say it, fun. I bet it was entirely unbureaucratic to.

    The bureaucratic mindset abhors comeptition because it instantly reveals bureauctatic failure. The vast majority of what currently our government does (badly) must be done privately. Only in that way will you get competition and the successful outcome exemplified by your example.

  17. BobE
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Can we be told who the factory is? I don’t think they would mind.
    Bob

    I didn’t say to them I would write about it so I just wish to draw general conclusions from it.

    • Daedalus
      Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes! I wouldn’t mind working there.

      Daedalus

  18. Mark
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice to think that politicians could have an honest conversation with voters. Sadly, the 2010 election failed miserably to put the real issues before the public, and we were treated to infantile debate about minor issues. To some degree this is a matter of most politicians being unwilling to be publicly honest (making it easy for them to dismiss the ones who are as cranks), but it is also down to the poor education the public receive in schools and via much of the news media – in particular the BBC.

  19. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The civil servisce and most things run by the state are poorly managed. Just look at MPs they cannot even organise an expence clain system.
    Having worked all my life in the private sector poorly managed comanies go out of business in the long run. The state just goes on and on, and if they have to save they try and make sure their customers suffer first.The NHS is paying £100.000 in overtime for individual consultants. it just makey want to cry.

  20. oldtimer
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    This sounds a good example of a well run business. No doubt they were spurred on by (1) competition and (2) the need to win sales to generate cash – something rarely found in the public sector. Usually public sector organisations enjoy a monopoly position and operate to a predetermined annual spending budget – one that has grown remorselessly since time began and appears as if it will continue to do so for the lifetime of this government. This is the very opposite of the situation for private enterprise.

    In so far as the Coalition`s reforms in the public sector help breakdown public monopolies, by introducing competition and requiring some effort (where feasible) to earn the cash on which they depend, they should help improve performance.

  21. Ken
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    In a good company a manager is encouraged to solve problems for good, make their job redundant and move on to an even greater and more lucrative challenge in the organisation.

    In a poor company the manager’s main role is to allow the rabbit into the hat in order to pull it out at regular intervals.

    The first approach moves the organisation forward. The second is stagnation and relative decline.

    I see no reason why state-run organisations cannot choose ‘good management’ option.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    What an an appealing an attractive picture you paint of a company well run, and of which I heartily applaud, and also that you decided to highlight these issues. The fact that others see things in quite a contrary light begs the question as to why. From where do we take our lead?

    Well, of course, politicians, for surely politicians set the tone by which the country is run, in both public and private sectors, and society as a whole. A counter force to honesty is spin, which in essence is the art of misrepresentation. And with the advance of spin has been a failure to argue a case on its merits, instead relying on the presentation.

    But the broadcast media are to blame as well. It was as if news and current affairs programmes are scared that if they delve beneath the superficial their audience will desert them. Or is it that programme makers themselves do not sufficiently understand the issue they are addressing, and what they are scared of is their inadequacies being found out? A consequence is that politicians are not given the time and space to make their case, nor to have it properly tested.

    For instance, suppose the PM was asked in a New Year interview to report on the previous year, good and bad. Any honest reply that attempted to give a balanced assessment would be treated to headlines along the lines of “PM admits failures”, with never a mention of “successes”.

    However, the media do not run the country, so we know where to look for the lead.

    PS: my reference to “politicians” should not be read a referring to any individual.

  23. Éoin Clarke
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    That was an excellent piece. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly and I quite agree with you. The quagmire of centre ground politics is awash with characters who advise smoke and mirror politics is the way to do business. Sadly, they seem to progress higher up the career ladders than the more decent hardworking and honest types. John Mann is a good example, as I think you are.

    I worked as a manager in Coca Cola at the start of my career [distribution/procurement]. Much of the transparency, and can do attiutde you describe was in evidence there. Philip Green was on to something when he said £20bn could be saved through efficiences…. Sadly, it takes a drought before anyone bothers to check the leaking pipes.

  24. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Well said!
    A year ago, when I first started setting up a school here in Wisbech, it was a case of chatting to nice people, saying exactly where we were coming from and asking for help. We all seemed to know each other and to be a bit like your excellent factory.
    Now the bureaucrats have moved in. We are given stuff to pass round and sign. We are told about ‘due process” and already the honesty is giving place to “covering your back”. We have to think what impression we are making.
    Sad.

  25. Bazman
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Pity none of this applies to banks. Companies do not want competition they want the freedom to do what they like without any competition. Bod Diamond swatted of the questions from MP’s like he swats away beach sellers and flies in his tax haven. The banks have failed themselves, the customers and the taxpayer and he does still not think they have a case to answer. ‘There was a period of remorse and apology for banks – that period needs to be over” The minute taker stopped typing and chewing and everyone else burst out laughing. No they didn’t. A failed company boss gets to keep his job and a massive bonus after taking failed risks underwritten by factory workers, street cleaners and council staff This Administration is to further line the pockets of the rich by transferring wealth to the rich from the middle class and the poor. Tradesmen and factory workers wages have stopped the same or fell in the last ten years. As I have said before to think that any company is somehow going to share their profits with the workforce without some sort of threat in the large majority of cases is laughable. Do you think tube workers get good wages because they are nice to their employers? They have Bob crow and the RMT fighting their corner. Did deep sea diver get a pay rise by asking nicely? No! They threatened a worldwide strike against rich oil companies. Even in TV La La land the cast of friend got massive wages by realising that they where powerful as a group. You have nothing and be happy with it as I don’t anyone leading from the front.

  26. JimF
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    This is why, in all likelihood, the USA will pull out of this quagmire in the end quicker than the UK. It’s about battling adversity, communication, working together, using technology efficiently, transparency of ideas and actions, having good systems. We just don’t by and large do this stuff like the Americans. And when Obama appears to tell them to be a bit fairer and nicer to each other they react against it. What’s fair about folk in the factory you visited yesterday propping up the incapable and inefficient?

    We’re creative but not organised. In the private sector, creative side, SMEs, this works well but in large public sector organisations where creativity isn’t wanted or needed and efficient organisation is genetically absent, there is a disaster area.

    Anyhow good for you to see how it can and should be done. Shame their Corporation Tax will go to fund the detritus.

  27. adam
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    We should have a revolution and rebuild our society on honesty as the highest trait, the most respected, the one that trumps all other faults. That would be a true enlightenment society.

    The masses default religiously to authority to such an extent that only telling them the truth will result in progress for here on. This New World Order business with everything conspired deceptively or in secret, is no utopia.

  28. John Holme
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mean to sound overly philopsophical, but how can this healthy attitude/efficient way of working be uniformly implemented/encouraged throughout the country, both in the public and private sector? For those that need a kick up the backside, I think it comes from inspirational and genuine leadership from the top – how such inspirational leadership is attracted is another question. The best are obviously not attracted to the public sector given the lack of financial reward – contrast Singapore, where public sector heads are paid on a level to the private sector, hence one of the best/most efficient public sectors in the world. At the opposite end of the spectrum of course, there are examples of relatively overpaid bosses in the private sector who are (at least in my experience going up the ladder in the City) overwhelmingly more interested in their own self-progression than the collective health of their company and colleagues, hence I think suffering from the same disease of self interest and idleness of quite a few of their public sector counterparts.

  29. Anoneumouse
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    “Honesty and management”

    Fortunatly the political elite in this country have neither of these attributes. They have never been schooled in this skills.

    Come the revolution.

  30. Vanessa
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    “Made in Britain” was once upon a time the most coveted stamp on anything you bought. We still make the BEST of everything IF we are allowed to. The EU directives make all manufacturers try to work with, not only one hand tied behind their back, but one foot tied up behind them too. Nobody talks about the aluminium factory, now closed because of EU regulations, nobody talks about the steel works closed becaused of EU regulations, nobody talks about the dead fish thrown into the seas because of EU regulation or the farmers going bankrupt because of EU regulation. Do I have to say it again? EU REGULATION. GET US OUT OF THE EU. It’s not difficult.

  31. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    The Factory you visited sounds excellent. The management are confident and competent. Striving for efficiency is a nobel cause and rewarding – both financially and through Job satisfaction.

    However – there is an enemy to this type of Honest, competent and well run Factory in the Global Market Place. That enemy is manipulated Foreigh Exchange Markets which are allowed to hold down the value of currecnies as all currencies are Fiat – not backed by anything.

    If all currecnies were redeemable in Gold (or similar), countries such as China; would not have such an unfair advantage over reputable Factories such as the one you visited. If central banks around the World were to suddenly start purchasing Pound Sterling (thereby hoarding and limiting the supply) – how would this affect the ability for UK Factories to compete against China?

  32. Gordon McCann
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartely that when things go wrong the main aim is to put them right.
    It is however, very difficult to try to put things right, when the media get involved. They only seek to allocate blame and portay the person in error in the worst possible light, with respect to the particular agenda of that newspaper or TV channel.
    So what you get is spin rather than the unadulterated truth.

    If you think I am being over causious we have had some good examples just recently of what happens when the unvarnished truth is spoken. Careers are ended.

    No wonder we are in this state.

  33. Bazman
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Could anyone recommend me an affordable four door family car made by a British owned company?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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