Jamaica Gleaner / In a team meeting with our Japanese consultant, Atsuo Kanai, at the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), he related his Myanmar experience where one company president scoffed at a two-second reduction in an eight-second process. Our consultant went on to show that this improvement actually could result in a 20 per cent improvement in overall process performance. After being convinced, the company’s president implemented the suggestions and reaped the rewards. The moral of the story: when it comes to productivity improvement, even a second matters.

This also led me to think of my own experience offering productivity improvement solutions in Jamaica, where one company was boasting 95 per cent conformance in product specifications. They were encouraged by our team to increase that by one per cent. Again, though initially reluctant, when the analysis was presented on how this could be done and the possible monetary savings conveyed, they quickly formulated teams that were trained by the JPC, who then implemented the solutions. The result was millions in savings per annum, demonstrating that there are productivity gains that can be realised by even a one per cent change especially if it can be replicated throughout the organisation, subsidiaries or even along the value chain.

 

Enthusiasm and commitment  

In May 2016, the Camperdown Primary & Infant School, located in south east St Ann, approached the JPC and requested that I deliver the keynote address at their Annual Grades Five and Six Incentive Dinner. I was blown away by the enthusiasm and commitment of the principal, teachers, parents, students and sponsors. For the past four years, this school has put on the aforementioned function as a motivation technique to target both grades to perform at their best academically and to learn how to behave in social settings. For two consecutive years – prior to the incentive dinner – Miss Kimberley Peterkin, a lecturer in the Tourism Department at Moneague College, delivered a presentation on social graces and dining etiquette to the students. Consequently, students from both grades, along with their parents, are invited to the dinner, and awards from preselected categories are presented to grade-six students, while the grade-five students observe. By observing, the grade-five students are prompted to work harder at being successful in their examination when they, in fact, transition to grade six; as well as to remain focused in school. The event is strategically calendared in the month of May to coincide with Child Month activities.

At the beginning of the school year, the grade-six students and their parents are sensitised about the incentive dinner. Additionally, a pictorial display of the previous year’s recipients of awards is mounted in the classroom as a constant reminder of what can be achieved at the incentive dinner. These, along with continued encouragement from the class teacher, Tracy Russell-Sewell, have empowered students to improve their academic performance. This year, with the help of LASCO, we were able to supply the school with a prize to be presented to the Most Improved Student. The recipient of the award is Cavel Bewry, who is from a single-parent family and who had to surmount various challenges to succeed. However, Cavel was able to increase her first-term average of 49.5 per cent in the core subjects to 74.2 per cent in the recent GSAT examinations. A point to note is that Cavel also received incentives for being the Most Improved Student in all subject areas at the incentive dinner, held on May 22. She accomplished all of this progress by the second term.

Even though it was one prize and one school, it can still make an impact, possibly in even one life. I would encourage all schools to continue to encourage our young ones and for corporate Jamaica to continue to support such noble initiatives to build a better Jamaica. The many sponsors of the incentive dinner are to be lauded for executing their corporate social responsibility. Some of these include the keynote speaker, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, who incentivised each student with a gift, courtesy of City of Kingston Co-operative Credit Union (COK). Decor and accessories were provided by Susan Williams, National Commercial Bank, JTA Co-operative Credit Union, Fontana Pharmacy, LASCO, Rio Tinto Bauxite, Digicel Business Department, Moneague College, past students of Camperdown Primary & Infant, Portside Towing Limited, The Achiever’s Sports & Trophies, Caribbean Producers Limited, C&J Petroleum, Epping Retail Limited, Butty One Stop, Select Brands, Reggae King Limited, Computer Business Solutions and Rehoboth Pharmacy, among other stakeholders.

In the area of continuous improvement, there is a philosophy called the one per cent rule, which states that improving our efficiencies and effectiveness consistently over time, even marginally, aggregated will lead to significant gains. Can you imagine if everyone sought to improve their work contribution, their families, themselves and their organisations by one per cent every day? Our four per cent increase in GDP in five years would be a breeze! There is power in one, and each of us can make a difference when it comes to productivity improvement as it is everyone’s business.

– Tamar Nelson is the senior director and systems & industrial engineer at the Jamaica Productivity Centre.

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