The Task Ahead

Work has already begun to realise the opportunities facing UK businesses. But we need to go further. We want to build a movement where businesses continually ask themselves, ‘How good is my business really?’ and work with others to improve their performance.

Realising the opportunity

Over the last twelve months, a group of senior business leaders, led by Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chair of the John Lewis Partnership, have come together to form the Productivity Leadership Group to help drive forward this agenda. Here, we set out the work that has taken place to date, and the substantive task that still lies ahead. To find out more about who has been involved so far, please see the Productivity Leadership Group section of the website.

Since the formation of the Productivity Leadership Group back in 2015, we have been working closely with seven groups of businesses and other partners across the UK to better understand the UK’s productivity challenge. In doing so, we have found that there are opportunities for improvement in businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.

Engagement has been key to the approach we have taken to date. Our research shows that for many businesses, ‘productivity’ is not enough of a priority; many businesses don't measure it, and, when asked, most businesses say they are above average in terms of performance. Yet we trail our international competitors.

We are developing an approach that is simultaneously practical, engaging and ambitious to support business improvements – we are calling for a business movement and have started to create a ‘Business Marketplace’ to tackle these  problems.

Developing a Business Marketplace

We believe that business improvements come in three practical steps:
  1. We need businesses across the country to have an informed view on how good they are.
  2. We want them to be able to see, and ideally to experience, what good looks like.
  3. We want them to have access to the support they need to make improvements through real, active business communities.
Learn more

To enable businesses to ask and answer these questions, we want to develop an online ‘Business Marketplace’ so people can assess, ‘How good is my business really?’. This will provide practical ways of supporting businesses to work with others to improve their performance.

Since September 2015, seven groups of businesses, working closely with the Productivity Leadership Group, have come together to start to develop specific tools and initiatives to make these steps tangible and relevant. There is real enthusiasm for the potential of this in key sectors such as manufacturing and food and drink, retail and the creative industries. But also related to cross cutting themes such as supporting management and leadership, better working practices, innovation and digitisation and making business performance measurement practical and motivating.

To find out more, see the ‘Business Leadership Groups’ section of the website under ‘Get involved’.

We have shared some of the products already developed, as well as practical steps and stories of what can be done to make improvements, in our ‘Business Marketplace’. This is just the beginning of what the marketplace can really be. We hope this inspires more businesses to connect with us, to act and to make this marketplace better. Please work with us to foster better business engagement and performance and feedback your views.

Building a business-led ‘movement’

If we are to come close to achieving the scale of impact we need across the economy to tackle productivity shortfalls we need to build a business movement involving thousands of businesses working together and taking actions that make a difference to their performance.

To create the impact that we need, this initial work of the Productivity Leadership Group must therefore be seen as the first wave of this movement that businesses like you want to join. This will depend on businesses’ confidence in the value of doing so, in the movement itself being dynamic, offering practical help and expertise, and on a broad supporting network that signposts, encourages and rewards engagement.

To achieve this, the movement will be necessarily ‘open source’ rather than prescriptive, but it must be unequivocally about results – measured in improved performance and productivity. The movement itself needs momentum. It must start quickly and well and grow fast. There is every sign it will do so. The response we have had to date has been very encouraging, with wider businesses, industry associations, banks, universities and LEPs all asking to be involved. To find out more about who we have been working with, please visit the 'Business Leadership Groups' and ‘Wider Stakeholders’ sections of the website’.

The need for leadership

To be successful, the movement we are looking to create needs to be well led. We are calling for a small, high quality ‘Productivity Council’ – to amplify and to accelerate impact, establishing a common purpose within the movement and winning a broad base of followers across the UK. With such leadership we can close the gap on international competitors. Without it, we risk falling further behind for a generation; we cannot afford to.

If the movement is to build momentum and grow fast partnership will be key. We will be working over the summer to build wider engagement and will actively be seeking feedback.

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