Thursday, August 19th, 2004

The July survey asked for views on Creative Problem Solving techniques and training, work based learning and to rank various aspects of government service.

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  • About the respondents

    173 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:

    Production & Manufacturing Distribution Services Total
    27.2% 8.1% 64.7% 100.0%

    Turnover ()
    < 1 M 1M-3M >3M Total
    68.2% 20.2% 11.6% 100.0%

    Number of Full-time Employees
    1-10 11-20 21-50 51-100 100+ Grand Total
    57.2% 30.6% 6.4% 2.9% 2.9% 100.0%

  • Survey Findings

  • The first part of the July Survey was focused around government services: - were respondents satisfied or not? and what were the most important aspects of their experience with the delivery of government services?. The same questions were asked in the parallel July UK Business Advisers Barometer, which drew 216 respondents, and the two sets of results are compared here.

  • In terms of overall experience of government services, the majority of respondents to both Surveys replied in the neutral to dissatisfied range, with 51% of total UKBB respondents and 62% of total UKBAB respondents. The UKBB found that although 21% had no recent experience of government services, of those that had such experience 33% were neutral but 51% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Only 9% of UKBAB respondents had no recent experience, but of the 91% that had, 33% were neutral and 47% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

  • In view of the general marked lack of enthusiasm by panellists towards the delivery of government services, ranking of positive aspects may have been a challenge. However, excluding those who had no recent experience of government services, the aspect seen as the most important was agreed by 40% of the UKBB and 37% of the UKBAB respondents to be knowledgeable, competent staff.

    The second most important aspect was thought by UKBB respondents to be knowledgeable, competent staff and a positive and helpful staff attitude - both of theses options were chosen by 26% of respondents, again excluding those with no recent experience. While knowledgeable, competent staff was also chosen by 26% of UKBAB respondents, the slightly more popular choice for second place was timeliness of service delivery with 28% of responses, excluding those with no recent experience.

    The third place for UKBB respondents went to timeliness of service delivery, with 29%, The UKBAB selected 'a positive and helpful staff attitude', 24%, but 'a successful outcome' fell within a half of one percent of this.

  • There is increasing emphasis upon the encouragement of creative problem solving skills in universities, schools and businesses. Creative problem solving skills are recognized as being of key importance in business, both in successful innovation and in growth of established business. Two techniques were looked at in this Survey and both frequently feature in courses run on creative thinking. Four questions were asked identically in both the UKBB and UKBAB Surveys and the comparative results are presented here.

    54% of respondents to the UKBB are highly or relatively highly familiar with the structured process of brainstorming and 40% use the process routinely in confronting business problems. A higher percentage of UKBAB respondents know about brainstorming - 76% to a high or relative high extent, and 44% use the process routinely in confronting business problems.

  • Mindmapping is not well known to as many of the panellists although 32% of UKBB and 56% of UKBAB respondents said they are highly or relatively highly familiar with the structured process. 41% of UKBB respondents are not at all familiar with it. Only 12% of UKBB and16% of UKBAB respondents use mindmapping routinely in confronting business problems, while 59% of UKBB and 36% of UKBAB never use the technique.

  • An indication of a strong wish to develop such creative thinking techniques was given by the 78% of respondents who think it is important for smaller firms to have access to advice and tuition on the application of such techniques.

  • When UKBB respondents access development training, their preferred way of doing so is, for the majority of 68%, via face-to-face group work rather than paper or web based. The UKBAB Survey asked advisers which training mode was better for their clients and 94% selected face to face group work. These responses of necessity reveal a general preference, although it must be born in mind that particular training may need to be delivered through one medium or another to be efficient for the intended purpose and comments were submitted to that effect.

    A large majority of UKBB and UKBAB respondents agree that the increasing emphasis on work based learning for students is a sensible trend.

    43% of UKBB respondents already welcome placement students and a further 27% would like to do so, although 30% do not wish to take on placement students, some 5% of the total already having tried and not found it rewarding. Some comments received indicated that the cost of hosting placement students is a real deterrent, especially the need to pay a reasonable salary.

    Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey BB74 July 2004.

    Comments are listed under sector headings.

    Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those of the University.

    Business Services

    For the future development of the young people who need many various skills to continue in our commercial world, it is imperative if all small, medium and large companies encourage them to come into their organisations and teach and train them into their industry. This should cover all skills ie. plumbers, carpenters, electricians, office workers, management, etc. As someone who works with young people from difficult backgrounds, and try to motivate and teach them another way of thinking about themselves and their future roles in their community, it is important that they realise that no one gets anything long term unless they work for it, and that it would be better if they could get a skill to help them advance into their future life and achieve their life aims and goals.

    when I click on timeliness of delivery of government services I refer to the none existence of the timeliness of delivery, your survey is very limiting and confusing in those questions

    You have started putting in closed questions with an inappropriately narrow range of answer options again. For your analysis to be valid you must give a 'run off lane' option that allows the respondent to indicate a problem with the question. Q10 is a classic. It imples a one size fits all answer when I would want to say horses for courses and by the way their is NO commonality of SME 'development' training needs. Instead I was forced to imply that all my SME 'development' training needs could best be met by a particular training methodology. In any event you can't cover issues of this kind with a single question.

    As we brainstorm for a living, I hope we are pretty good at it!

    So often local government is not aware of the working practice of the private sector and can be very guarded.

    Work experience for younger students is, on the whole and in my experience, less than useless. They are not prepared and not interested in the process / experience because they do not see the relevance. Employers are often not geared-up to engage work experience students in meaningful opportunities.

    My experience of public funded organisations has been very negative recently. It becomes very frustrating for clients when we cannot deliver what has been promised by them and then recinded on the follow up visit.

    Production & Manufacturing

    "mind mapping" - Sounds rather sci-fi!!

    My biz is FAR TOO SMALL to accommodate a student!


    I find your initial questions rather invidious because I have very little experience of dealing with government and intend to keep it that way! Perhaps you should ask initially how much business people interact with government anyway.


    With regards to welcoming work placement students, I think many SMEs would open their doors to students wishing to gain some experience but can't afford to pay them a great deal.

    Large organisations can afford to pay a reasonable salary to most placement students but in areas such as design often the smaller independent creative companies that could offer a valuable placement just can't afford to.

    I studied graphic design over ten years ago and on completion of my degree I literally 'squatted' in agencies without pay to gain valuable experience.

    I would like to offer students placements within our company but the prospect of having to pay them a 'reasonable' salary is just too unfeasible.

    Government Services to me means DSS, Pension Service, and they are pretty much hopeless. Their systems are wasteful, convoluted, out of date, with uncoordinated computer systems, and I waste a whole lot of time trying to sort out benefit problems for the residents in my residential Home. No apparent solution!

    Q11 Refers to an excellent scheme devised over 100 years ago called apprenticeship. If only policymakers wouldn't tinker!!

    Government Services to me means DSS, Pension Service, and they are pretty much hopeless. Their systems are wasteful, convoluted, out of date, with uncoordinated computer systems, and I waste a whole lot of time trying to sort out benefit problems for the residents in my residential Home. No apparent solution!

    All the items that were listed for the performance of government departments are equally important. They should be fair, fast and positive