Senior figures from the region’s business community attended an event which provided advice about the best ways of improving productivity across Yorkshire,
It was the latest in a series of seminars organised by The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Beckett University which provide a platform for debate and analysis.
The innovation network event, which had the title “Improving productivity - how you can apply best practice’ featured presentations from Dave Moore, relationship director for SME (small-and-medium-sized enterprises) banking at Lloyds Banking Group, Dr Oliver Jones, principal lecturer in operations, enterprise and supply chain management at Leeds Beckett University, and Louise O’Brien, the managing director of Greyhound Box, a manufacturer of corrugated boxes.
In his presentation, Dr Jones urged the audience to seek out “little pictures” of data that can give a broad indication of what is going on within their business.
He told the event, which was held at The Yorkshire Post’s head office in Leeds: “One of the myopic tendencies in management at the moment is to go for key performance indicators. And what that does is just narrow down your vision.
“You’re wearing a very small pair of binoculars with blinkers on the side. You’re saying this is the most important thing, when really, because it’s a complex picture, you need to be thinking wider than that.
“Another issue with big data is that it is usually ‘dirty’ data, there are lots of anomalies in there and problems with it. It needs distilling down to try to turn that into something useful.”
Afterwards Dr Jones told The Yorkshire Post said: “It’s about focusing on reducing waste where you can and using that opportunity to think about adding value.”
The seminar heard that companies could free up time by taking a creative approach to management.
Dr Jones added: “What you do with that time is down to imagination, innovation and creativity, which is a key part of the Government’s industrial strategy.
“Yorkshire has got a strong economy and we need to focus on helping small businesses that would like to grow, but are not sure how.”
In her presentation, Ms O’Brien showed how her company had become more productive by analysing time management within the business and listening to employees’ ideas. She urged the audience to take a similar approach in their businesses.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Moore said: “There are opportunities to learn from the best in the industry; from peers, from competitors.
“There are a lot of experts out there. It’s having that vision in the first place to do something about it and to ask for help.
“If there is a desire to ask for that help, there are plenty of people who can provide support.
“The banks, and whoever your professional advisers are, have got some super links who will help an SME business improve their productivity.
“In the North, certainly from a manufacturing point of view, we have got a good level of productivity in comparison with the South East.
He added: “There’s no indication from the work we have done that would say we are any less productive in the North compared with the South East.”
The debate, which was sponsored by Lupton Fawcett and WGN, was chaired by Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post.
After the event, the delegates toured the Leeds digital hub, which is a tech office and co-working space run in partnership between Leeds Beckett University and The Yorkshire.
The next innovation network event, which is on the topic of artificial intelligence, is due to be held in March 2018.