Category Archives: UK economy

You won’t do it anyway!

This week the CMI released a report on ‘Management 2020 Leadership to unlock long term growth’. I will begin with copying the opening words contained in the report.

“In 2013, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management (APPGM) decided to investigate how management and leadership in the UK will need to change by 2020 to deliver sustainable economic growth. The Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership was created with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) to pursue that inquiry, bringing together members of both Houses of Parliament, across the main parties, with leaders from a wide range of sectors. The Commission considered evidence from academic experts, vibrant entrepreneurs, up-and-coming young managers and world-renowned business leaders alike. “

The report is over 27000 words and 65 pages long, full of serious content and worth reading. It is beautifully constructed and the advice and statistics included are both compelling and convincing.

But! Does it contain anything new? Unfortunately not. What goes around comes around as the saying goes! The statistics might change a little but the underlying situation is much as it was several decades back.

In reading it I was reminded of the situation in the UK in 1979.

It was the occasion of a conference that I organised and held at the Institute of Directors in London September 1979 entitled ‘The Japanese Approach to Product Quality’. One of the key speakers was the late Professor Ishikawa and another was the recently deceased Professor Naoto Sasaki. The conference lasted three days and Professor Ishikawa spoke for most of day one. Before the end of the event, one British participant asked the question why are you telling us all of this? Are you not afraid that we will catch up?’ Sasaki’s response was ‘I have been coming to the UK now for 10 years. You are asking me the same questions that you were 10 years ago and you have done nothing. Even if you start now, we will not stop improving so if it takes you 10 years to get to where we are now we will still be 10 years ahead, but you will not do it anyway’.

Two years later a CBI/ Trades Union team visited Japan organised by the DTI at the UK end and JUSE at the other. They visited Toyota and many other advanced companies. At a final reception at the British Embassy, one of the participants asked Sasaki the same question and received the same response. As a consequence, the DTI published a report, entitled ‘You won’t do it anyway’! It was remarkably similar to this report in both content and conclusions and here we are 32 year later debating the same issues and drawing much the same conclusions.

My opinion is, yes a nice report but who is going to do anything about it? The task now is for the CQI to take up the challenge and be the leader in quality approaches.

David Hutchins is Chairman of David Hutchins Innovation Limited, an academic at the international Academy for Quality (IAQ), and a visiting Fellow at Kingston University.