The President, Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management, Mr. Remi Dairo, in this interview with THE WHISTLER speaks about why the Nigerian economy has been performing sub-optimally and what could be done to change the narrative among other manpower development issues. Excerpts…
Tell us briefly about yourself and what you do?
My name is Remi Dairo and I am a Senior Coach and Principal Consultant at Producitvate Plus in the United States of America. I am also the President of the Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management, a globally focused African institution of productivity and innovation learning. The institution is in partnership with some of the world’s best institutions around the globe.
You have a serious passion for capacity and manpower development. What is your motivation for doing this?
My passion for a productive and innovative nation has sparked up different brainstorming and strategy sessions with my team. We have researched into different dimensions towards solving Africa’s most daunting challenges; productivity and innovation in the contemporary realities and this eventually led to the birth of the School of Productivity in 2007 with thousands of graduates all over the world and later got upgraded to Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management in 2016. From there, I moved to the United States to found Productivate Plus LLC; a productivity organization driven by the innovative approaches to getting things done, in Houston, Texas.
I am also the principal consultant of Solvere Word Consult/ Productivate Plus LLC which in the space of 15 years he has completed up to 2,500 unique projects on coaching and workplace productivity strategies for a number of world-class organizations such as; Federal Government of Nigeria’s Amnesty program, Chevron, Total, WAPCO Lafarge, L.M ERICSON, Acaltel, Covenant University, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, First Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat, University of Ghana, University of Cambridge Publishing, Microsoft, Nairobi, Kenya, Walmart amongst others.
Did childhood prepare you for what you do now?
Yes. I was born to a hard-working mother (Mrs Grace Popoola) who is a businesswoman and politician in Oyo north (Oyo State). I grew up with my grandmother who I learned the principles of hard work and sincerity. My Grandma was another definition of productivity.
She was old but hard working. Some of the principles that formed my life today I got from my grandma (Madam Simbiat Majiyagbe). Another important personality that affected me while growing up was my father (Alh. Bashir Shekoni Dairo) who was a realtor and a community leader in Lagos. He taught me the principles of hard work and the dignity of labor.
My step-dad; actually, I call him my Dad, (Mr Okulola Popoola), who is another great man that affected my life today. He taught me hard work and the practicality of starting small to grow big. These are all the people I grew up with that affected my life and the “Productivity” career today.
What made you start the center for Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management (IPBIM)?
Actually, I started the School of Productivity in 2007 which metamorphosed into the Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management (IPBIM). I started this movement when I saw the human capital potential capacities of Africa and yet the continent is getting little from that capacity.
Africa is so blessed yet poor and ever on the developing list. From my deep interaction with Nigeria public service and my many years of private business, I see the same problem all over, lack of appropriate skills, lack of appropriate information, and the right attitude to work.
So, we established the IPBIM to help bridge the productivity gap and take the nation to the new global productivity experience called Innovation. I discovered that many are hard workers but do not know that the rules of work have changed. They work so hard but are not smart. In IPBIM we redefine productivity.
You recently moved to the US to continue your work. How has the reception been so far?
Let me quickly say, I did not run away from Nigeria. I only repositioned my project scope. Today’s rule of work is that you can be in any part of the world and yet be giving value to another far part of the globe. So back to your question, I am in America on productivity expertise status.
I have a company called Productiviate Plus LLC that focuses on the productivity of America and Americans through innovative dimensions. The reception has been awesome, and I have some corporate productivity programs running for fortune 500 companies and some notable colleges in America.
My company is also giving licences to individuals who want to go into Personal Productivity coaching and make use of our special App that is created to help people find their productivity capacity. We also hold a monthly ideation program to help the black community to get the right information to excel in life, career, or business.
You have so many programmes that have impacted the lives of people. Which of these project can you say is the most memorable for you so far?
We have a Personal Productivity program that helps people to find their productivity capacity in life, career, and business. With the help of our PPP App, participants can take their PPP assessment and get results that will give them clarity of their capacity. Our organisation also has a workforce productivity program for an organisation which helps to build a productivity mindset and skills for maximum performance.
There is another program called Innovation management for an organisation that wants to go through the Innovation system process for optimum results. Our organisation has the productivity and Innovation Program curriculum for secondary schools in Nigeria, to help us develop productive and innovative kids right from secondary schools.
We also have a Business Innovation Program for businessmen and women who want to set up a profitable system, cutting waste and sustainable customers.
Nigerian university graduates have been accused of not being employable after graduation from school. How can we reverse this trend?
I think the first thing to do is to change the curriculum of our education system. It is high time we change the kind of education we invest in our children. The world has changed so also the needs and expectations of the market, if we still go by the old syllabus of education the result, we would be having will not change from what we are having now.
The kind of education I think we need as a nation is productivity and innovation education. We need to teach the students new and globally relevant skills that will give them a competitive advantage. Our leaders must understand that the concept of productivity has changed. The new productivity is now virtual work, hybrid work collaboration, smart work. Our country must move from the old to the new if we must be globally relevant. Then our graduates can get jobs within and outside the continent of Africa.
We have a very high and vibrant youthful population in Nigeria, but surveys have shown that there are many skill gaps among our youths due to the dearth of Technical and Vocational Centers. This has made the Nigeria economy to be behind in many areas. What can be done to harness the potential of our youths?
To harness the potential of our youth, the first thing we need to add to our education is to have a system to find out what they are loaded with. Every child is loaded with powerful potential but do we have a system that helps to track this capacity? Our organization created one like that, Personal Productivity Program (PPP) Personal Productivity Program. Then after you find that out, we need to build the children in line with their future not what the teacher thinks is right.
We need to get students to start being involved in volunteer jobs, this will give them first-hand experience before they go into the career world. Another important thing is the government must provide an enabling environment such as power, good roads, amenities, and funding for the growth of the business or career they choose to follow.
The Nigerian economy affects people’s productivity in different ways. What can we do to change the narrative?
The first thing I would like to say is that there is no country in the world that does not have its problems. Nigeria is not the only country that has economic challenges but the way we see the problem will determine how we solve it. Every economic problem should allow people to think within and find solutions for others to pay for.
The internet has connected the world and Nigerians can lash on this. Social media is a big opportunity for free or less marketing to other parts of the world outside Nigeria. With the advent of the internet, productivity and making money has changed and our people must learn the new skill of today.
There is a need for people to re-skill, cross-skill and up-skill. Our people must also change their mindset with the seven right attitudes — to work, organisation, subordinate, colleague, salary, God/universe, life, and money.
If you could speak to a graduate or business owner on the power of productivity and good performance, what would you say to them?
I will share one principle for business productivity and graduates can also learn from them. The power of vision cannot be taken away from business growth and sustainability. Vision determines speed, quality, and customers. Vision differentiates you from others, it separates you from the crowd. Let every business person or graduate from school do everything to cast a clear vision. Without vision, copying will be the order of the day as people will lose their originality and that is what we have today on social media; fake life.
So strive to find what you are born to do, get a clear picture of where you are going, it will give you a mark on earth and if you don’t, you just denied the universe your purpose for being alive. So, anytime you have a clear picture of your future, you have the right to feature in it. So, vision gives motion and activates resources on the journey you saw.
What would you say to a person who is finding it difficult to be productive in a toxic work environment?
The truth is you cannot be productive in a toxic workplace environment. The first thing the person needs to do is to identify the source of the toxicity; people, things, or environmental factors. After identification, analyse the toxic; the root, the course, and the implications.
Then we need to confront the toxic source; if it’s from people, we may need to arrange a meeting to resolve the root cause; parties need to express the way they feel and why they feel that way. The need to forgive one another is also very important as we bring a new environment of love and harmony back to the workplace.
If the source of the toxicity is a thing, we need to confront it or remove it, or by calling experts to do so. In case the toxicity cannot be resolved and it affects your life, please move on to another place of love and harmony you ever desire to work. Do not manage a toxic workplace without dealing with it and making sure you are free.
How can we use social media more productively?
Social media is a two-edged sword, it can make you productive and distract you from productivity. The number one way social media can help to increase your productivity is when you use the platform for marketing your products or services.
There are social media marketers who are making money running Ads on social media rather than spending money on traditional media. You can also make use of social media as a platform to project your voice or ideology.
Many people have become social media influencers by sharing their passion and ideology.
Some have gotten a scholarship or been invited to speak in other countries, or paid for being a social influencer. Another dimension to social media productivity is that many HR companies have been able to recruit talents from the pool of social media. So, it can be a platform where employers find employees, the important this is value and how you position yourself.
You wear many hats, and run a very busy schedule. How do you unwind and relax?
I love comedy shows, movies, and theaters. I love to laugh and have fun. I take my family or friends out to have a quality fun time when it’s needed. When it’s time to play, I play really hard because I work hard too. Remember that having time for fun and relaxation is one of the strategies for increasing your productivity.
What can we do as Nigerians to be more productive?
To be more productive in a society, we need to, first of all, understand that challenges in society are the starting point for productivity. We must have eyes for challenges and a heart for solutions. We must be able to proffer solutions to challenges of the society; that is the first step.
We must not just stay on the solution but convert the solution to a product that society will be able to pay for or exchange for value. A solution can come in products and services; this is what people buy. It is also important to brand your product (solution). This will bring you out of the crowd.
Branding is the fingerprint that separates you from everyone. This will not be enough; you must find a platform that you can use to project your products and services; platforms announce you and give you connections with others in society.
Finally, quality must be our watchword, do not just proffer solutions as a product or service without quality. Then your productivity will be affected in the society.