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APO Secretary-General Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn emphasized the importance of focusing on sustainable productivity in a public lecture and seminar organized by the National Productivity and Competitiveness Council (NPCC) of Mauritius on 17 February 2017. In addition to the lecture, he held meetings with national policymakers and spoke at the APO training project for African productivity practitioners.
The Secretary-General’s lecture described the unprecedented rate of change the world has experienced starting from the early 1980s almost in every field. The population, energy consumption, technology, knowledge, etc. have been increasing at exponential rates ever since. In consequence, organizations must find ways to cope. Companies also need to redefine the ways they manage their businesses in order to survive.
In enhancing national productivity, policymakers also need to redefine approaches and adapt their viewpoints to stay ahead of the curve, the Secretary-General added. They must be trend literate, consider time frames for every policy action, rely on appropriate tools to extract information on which paths to follow that will lead to survival and a better future, combine trends to create long-lasting values, and shape the future based on what is known at present.
He pointed out that, although people and culture were still at the core of everything, technologies had now bypassed the human role in contributing to productivity. The old notion that technology impacts productivity through the labor factor might no longer be applicable. That is why the APO is moving toward a new approach and direction in managing productivity, referred to as “sustainable productivity.” It is based on the premise that: “Excellence in productivity no longer guarantees that an organization will survive and thrive in the world of constant change and uncertainty. To be resilient, organizations must take a long-term view to develop future readiness strategies, taking actions to address risks and seize opportunities to build productivity growth that can fit into and be sustained in the highly uncertain, highly complex future, i.e., sustainable productivity.”
Dr. Kanoktanaporn concluded that, in order to survive and be productive, business entities needed to take advantage of opportunities in front of them by being “proactive attackers” rather than passive, using disruptive thinking to change the industrial structure where they operate, always challenging the status quo, and delivering better products and services. For the public sector, the Secretary-General predicted that there would be fewer and slower tax revenues, which would require governments to do more with less. Furthermore, the public and private sectors needed to think of their roles in society and create more value for the people. Both sectors should level the playing field vis-à-vis society at large.
The lecture was followed by a panel discussion among two international and three Mauritian panelists from various backgrounds, including productivity trainers, business leaders, and trade union executives. The event received significant coverage from the local media and attracted an audience of approximately 300. Secretary for Foreign Affairs U.C. Dwarka Canabady of the Mauritian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade and Counsellor Junji Gomakubo, of the Embassy of Japan in Mauritus were among those in attendance.