Thursday, December 3, 2009

Prof Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Wow - what an amazing session with a brilliant woman! Prof Kanter is one of the 50 most powerful women in the world and she has some incredible insights to share. Our whole team attended her seminar this week in Sydney and here is a summary of some of the highlights of what she said:

Vanguard leaders for the 21st Century stay ahead of the pack by super-charging their teams through a strong culture that encourages innovation, collaboration and high standards of performance, with an eye on society and the greater good. They anticipate change and create the change - they are not followers.
Leaders shape the culture of the organisation - when the culture works well, it is possible for you and the people you work with to do larger than life things.

Through Prof Kanter's research into what differentiates those companies that out-perform their sectors, she uncovered that they use the idea of serving society as part and parcel of their business strategy - this includes serving shareholders and financial interests. These organisations have a culture of collaboration and have large extended networks in their eco-system.

Vanguard leadership is a response to the turbulence we constantly have facing us - it is a world of what Prof Kanter describes as VUCA. It is filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It turns our assumptions about things upside down.

The most important thing that an organisation can have as its bedrock in a world of VUCA is its purpose, values and principles. The core of what a leader does is to support the P-V-P. It needs to be well articulated and not simply words on a wall - "it is not about the words; it is about the conversations."

Even if you are not in a management role, don't wait for the senior leadership to do something. Change things from the middle. Start different conversations. Get book clubs started and cross-company social events. Link everything back to the organisation's common guidance system.

Adopt the 5 F's of leadership -

It is not a question any longer of thinking outside of the square. Prof Kanter says that we need to think "outside of the building"! We need to continue to seek opportunities that enrich things inside. What inspiring words!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

More on Innovation

Gary Hamel is a great guru of mine and has been writing for many years on how organisations can take the next step to upping the ante on a culture of innovation. In this blog I take some of his ideas and expand on them to provide some practical examples of how we can apply some of his thinking in the workplace.

1. Learn from the fringe. Hamel says - "What’s true for music, fashion and the arts is true for business as well: the future starts on the fringe (not in the mainstream). As William Gibson once said, 'The future has already happened, it’s just unequally distributed.' To see it coming, managers have to pay attention to nascent technologies, unconventional competitors and un-served customer groups. A good rule of thumb: spend an hour a day, or a couple of days a month, exploring emerging trends in technology, lifestyles, regulation and venture capital funding. The future will sneak up on you unless you go out looking for it."

In your teams, set up a process where managers or team members have responsibility for doing research on emerging trends generally - not necessarily in their specific field of expertise. Ask them to do fun presentations on the future for others in the organisation.

2. Regard every belief as a hypothesis. hamel says - "The biggest barriers to strategic renewal are almost always top management’s unexamined beliefs. Music can only be sold on shiny discs? Don’t bet on it. The news has to be delivered on a big piece of flimsy paper? Not necessarily. You have to load programs onto your computer before you can use them? Maybe not. In an age of unprecedented change, it’s important to regard everything you believe about your company’s business model, its competitors and its customers as mere hypotheses, forever open to disconfirmation. Every industry works the way it does until it doesn’t; and if you don’t challenge industry dogma, you can be sure that some unconventional upstart will. So now more than ever, humility is a virtue."

Make this concept real in several ways - Run a fun session where everything is challenged.

What could things look like if there were no bank accounts, if there were no credit cards, if there were no formal loan system, banks no longer existed etc.

This is where I think LEGO Serious Play would be marvellous – or drawing and collages would also be great.

What are the possibilities that emerge. Make a video of them.

3. Invest in genetic diversity.

Hamel says - "Check that the innovation team has a good mix of innovation skills" – Know who is who on the team. Who are the ones who ideate and who are the implementors? Who are the process people and who are the people who are detail-focused.

4. Encourage debate and dialectic thinking. "Diversity is of little value if senior executives value conformance and alignment above all else. One of the reasons that McKinsey & Company* has remained at the top of the consulting game for so many decades is that it encourages internal dissent."

Do an activity where one team presents and the other does ‘ritual dissent’. This is a process where the other team pulls apart the ideas of the previous team as though they are holding their own private meeting with their backs to the team that presented. It is not intended as criticism - it is intended to stimulate further debates.

5. Build a magnet for great ideas. Hamel - "In the quest to expand the option set, it’s important to cast the innovation net as broadly as possible. IBM did this in 2006 when it hosted a worldwide Innovation Jam. The online conversation was designed to help IBM identify new ways of using its resources to help address some of the world’s toughest challenges. More than 150,000 experts, vendors, employees and clients participated in two 72-hour brainstorming sessions that generated 46,000 postings"

See how you can do an “innovation jam” session – either on-line or face to face. Take the concept and make it your own. Brainstorm without post-its as the main mechanism.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Many clients have recently been asking us to assist them in setting strategies for creating a culture of innovation in their organisations. Some feel as though team members and managers are happy to accept the status quo and are not actively and proactively seeking ways to improve systems, processes and products and to lead the organisation forward.
We have so often heard about the need for innovation as the cornerstone of any successful business - and yet unless there is a determination from within the business to create a mindset of innovation, this does not automatically happen.
There are several levels to bringing an organisation forward to become part of a 'creativity and innovation revolution.'
First up obviously is to create an overall strategy and to set an action plan in place from that. Included in that process will be a way of developing innovation competencies such as
  • Having a solution-centred mindset
  • Being able to think laterally
  • Being engaged with the outcomes and vision of the organisation
  • Being prepared to collaborate
There are certainly challenges in simply embedding these competencies - it is not that easy to say to team members who have traditionally waited for the 'boss' to come up with a solution, 'hey guys, you now need to problem solve and guess what, even if your solution does not work out well, there will be no blame.'
Yes, it would be wonderful to have flat organisational structures with amazing 'hotspots' of innovation emerging to deliver great value to the customer. On a practical level, and if you have no influence over the overall culture and organisational objectives, start off by doing small things:

1. Train your team on how to problem solve effectively. Use the process of the Creative Problem Solving Institute and show your team the 6 phase process that enables problems to be identified and resolved on a consensus basis.
2. Learn to re-frame problems without ever saying "NO or YES BUT" to anyone. Re-frame the response to your team member by saying, 'In what way might you resolve that". "In what ways might you find a way around the budget" is going to produce an innovation mindset, rather than - "we tried that last year' Or "No, that won't fit in the budget."
3. Pro-actively encourage lots of ideas - if we don't start with a huge funnel of ideas, you won't be let with many ultimately!

Building Resilience to Change

I have been reading an amazing book by Jeanie Daniel Duck where she talks about the human and emotional side of change - and how change interventions that ignore the "change monster" are doomed to failure.
We often attend programs on how to lead and manage change effectively and team leaders and managers learn skills in setting plans in place and implementing them.
More recently we are receiving requests from organisations to assist them in working with team members AND their managers to assist them in coping with the amount of change that confronts them. How do you guide the team through a process of dealing with the "change monster" - a catchphrase for all the deep human emotions that are triggered by organisational change.
We have a well developed program for managers on leading change and on setting practical strategies for following the key steps to achieving a positive outcome.
In response to client requests, we have recently developed a 1 day and a 1/2 day program that targets team members and assists them in dealing with the emotional elements of a transformation and change process. The emotions that emerge are complex, often frightening and are not always visible. What skills, thought processes and behaviours could be useful in navigating the many mergers, reorganisations and changes in strategy, policy and process that occur in organisations? How do individuals maintain their levels of motivation and and cope with the realities of living through major changes.
The program is totally experiential and no course manuals or notes are distributed. The room is set up with chairs in a circle and in some instances pushed to the side of the room. A series of activities commences and after each activity there is a guided de-brief. Through the de-brief, skills and behaviours are discussed and addressed and key messages are explored.
Some of these key messages are:
Acknowledge all the change monsters in the room - this is the first step to begin to surface what is normally swimming way below the ice berg.
Understand and make use of the power of the team - supportive teams have the ability to assist in moving people through change. When people band together to conquer the change monster, they usually do!
The need to behave differently and think differently - how can we extend ourselves to take on a different perspective and to meet new challenges. All of this takes immense courage - what stories of inspiration are there to cope with all the heightened emotions of change
We all have endless possibilities - how can we awaken these and find what inspires us. Once we have found what inspires us, how do we integrate this passion into our working environment.
Setting individual behavioural contracts - answering questions around which behaviours need to stop, start or change and also thinking through the ways in which we might sabotage ourselves as well as what is the positive payoffs and rewards for stretching ourselves.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shai Agassi, Time Magazine Top 100 influential thinker

I was privileged to listen today to Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of Better Place. He used to be President of the Products and Technology Group at SAP. He resigned from this position to pursue interests in alternative energy and climate change. In October 2007 he founded a company named Project Better Place, focusing on a green transportation infrastructure based on electric cars as an alternative to the current fossil fuel technology.
Agassi has been included in TIME magazine's 100 most influential people list of May 11, 2009 - and with good reason! What a superb speaker and a great mind.

Highlights of his presentation:

1. Shai set off on his journey as a result of a question that was asked to him a financial forum: "How do we make the world a better place?"
He set about tackling ways in which to change humanity and create a sustainable environment for all. He said that the past years of growth have been based on the template of the American Dream and this is not going to assist us as the population grows towards the 9 billion mark.
He sees a sustainable environment being completely linked to a sustainable economy. Questions about the environment relate directly to our own pockets.

2. Shai set about asking questions: How do you run a vehicle with no oil? How do we build an electric car that everyone will want to buy? How do build a car that is convenient and cheap to run? How do you build the car using the science that we have on the shelf? How do you build a car that makes business sense for the manufacturer and the sales people? How do you create a car that stops only 50 times to refuel, equivalent to the approximately 50 times a year that we stop to fill our cars with petrol? How do you build a car without waiting for a bigger battery to be invented? How do you build a car that when it charges it does not take the whole electricity grid of a city down? How do you create a car that when you get back into drive it, it is ready to go? How do you ensure that there is a solid financial model behind the whole design and development? How do you develop a financial model for the car that is based on the mobile phone modeling of a free phone if you sign up to a 2 year contract?

3. Shai developed a very strong vision and did his research to back up what he was saying. He sees his development of the electric car as the future of how we will travel by 2020. Current oil-based cars will be the equivalent of fax machines today. Australia he believes is uniquely placed for this new way of driving as all the raw products for batteries are natural resources in this country. Australia could be selling kilometers to the world as Saudi Arabia is selling oil right now. Shai speaks with absolute conviction when he says:"We will make zero carbon footprint cities. We will abolish petrol. The world will be a great place."

4. From a process perspective, Shai uses unbelievable leadership, influencing and presentation skills. His whole presentation is a story. He speaks of his own journey and his own struggles to find funding and financial backing. He speaks of his growth and determination to never give up until he found solutions.
He sets such a clear vision for himself and can articulate it in a straightforward way. He definitely has the end in mind and works relentlessly towards that point. He knows what he wants the end result to look like and he paints that picture brilliantly so that the audience too can see it as clearly as he does.
He uses creative problem solving techniques by starting his process off with grand questions and big views. He then breaks down smaller problems and works his way through them. He frames his questions according to creative problem solving techniques.
He has high levels of credibility based on his knowledge and his research and his ability to communicate this in plain language.

See Shai's talk on Youtube:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gail Kelly talks strategy

I was lucky enough to listen to Gail Kelly talk at her first major business lunch since she took over as CEO of Westpac - and WOW what an impact she made. She did not speak from carefully scripted notes and captured the audience with words straight from the heart, spoken with passion and conviction.
She summarised her first 18 months in office by using the word 'intensity' and said that she had been required to navigate external economic forces as well as developing and implementing Westpac's new strategy.
She spoke of her determination to ensure that the Westpac goals remain completely customer-centric and that the bank works to earn business from customers and to delight customers through their efforts. She is looking to achieve a high level of customer advocacy and with 10 million customers between St George and Westpac, this is truly an opportunity to delight them!
She believes that the operating environment remains challenging. There are certainly some positive signs and she describes herself as 'cautiously optimistic'.
She also spoke about the importance of reputation particularly for banks at the moment. There is a huge amount of anger and distrust and how does one begin to re-build that? Reputation is like a coconut tree - it takes so long to grow yet is so quick to cut down. Banks would need to be more transparent and show their high level of ethics and strong conduct over time.
Driving an active customer focused culture has had its challenges. Although each employee knows the strategy and can talk the right words, it needs to be "baked" into them. This requires change in all aspects including systems, processes, reward and recognition, traditions and so on. Even as CEO, Gail herself had trouble in getting these changes across the line. She was determined to do this in a systematic, deliberate and ruthless way. She emphasised that this is a journey over many years.
She said that many transformations fail for a number of reasons. Sometimes we underestimate the size of the task. At other times we declare victory too soon. You need to have the commitment to carry on and to have all the champions behind you. Be very clear on where you are going and measure how well you are tracking.
Kelly sees her legacy as having built a customer-centric organisation that is admired for its reputation.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

International Conference on Thinking in Kuala Lumpur

Have just returned from the International Conference on Thinking in Kuala Lumpur. Great to be exposed to so many interesting ideas on creativity, learning, imagination and innovation.

I've brought back lots of fantastic inspirations for our leadership programs and training programs.

Headlining the conference were:
  • Edward De Bono - best known for Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking
  • Howard Gardner - creator of Multiple Intelligence Theory
  • Tun Dr Mohamad Mahatir - former Prime Minister of Malaysia
  • Tony Buzan - creator of Mind Mapping
Here's the video blog which I posted to Management Consultancy International's Youtube channel outlining the highlights from the first day of the conference. In particular I outline Howard Gardner's talk about Multiple Intelligence Theory - 25 years after its creation.

What I found particularly interesting was Multiple Intelligence theory's applications in the workplace. As I mention in the video, Gardner's suggestions that understanding the differing intellectual strengths of our team members can help us create more balanced, effective teams. Teams which avoid groupthink by having a healthy mix of perspectives.

I'll be posting more highlights from the conference and sharing the insights gained in the coming days!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Skills Recognition Conference 2009

VETAB held the Skills Recognition conference on 25 and 26 May this year - some very interesting discussions around what is RPL and how it should be delivered.
The ultimate aim of placing the focus on RPL is to ensure that the workforce is more innovative and flexible - this is even more important in an economic downturn. World-class skills are needed for building a world-class economy.
In research presented at the conference, it was shown that over 88% of workplaces see informal coaching and in-house training as being the most popular methods of gaining new skills. So - how will we make the link between the reality of informal training and the formality of an external, formal qualifications-style training? This can only happen if informal training is given validity and the process of linking the qualification back to the workplace begins with what is happening in the workplace itself - and NOT with the training package.
It is imperative that we don't allow training to slip onto the back-burner as happened in the previous recession where it took over a decade for training to re-emerge as a vital component of skills development.
Professor Roy Green of UTS spoke about companies who need to build their own momentum for innovation to achieve spectacular growth. He says that Australia has dropped when compared to other OECD countries when it comes to our ability to innovate. He reminded the audience that even in times of depression, great innovations were taking place such as the radio and Hollywood advances. He would like to see a new commitment to a national innovation system that is more than just science and technology - a system driven by collaboration and not silos; a system that includes high and low tech and that is non-linear.
Innovation, he maintains, comes from internal knowledge in the company, interaction with customers, engaged employees, higher productivity and leadership and management skills.
In fact, Green emphasises that good management behaviour is the single most cost-effective way to improve performance in an organisation.
Green wants to see a national forum on the workplace of the future to develop a shared vision and to enable a roadmap for change.
Other speakers emphasised that recognition of skills is a strong business tool. It reduces the time spent on induction and is a faster route to productivity improvements. It helps to identify skills gaps and also provides information for workforce planning. It assists in motivating and retaining staff and also provides the benefits of nationally recognised qualifications.
Interest from companies for RPL remains high where it forms part of normal business practice - you are simply placing an accredited framework around what is being done anyway. It is part and parcel as well of becoming known as an employer of choice.
VET-speak can be a perceived barrier to people taking up RPL and it is really up to the providers to build a more personal approach for candidates.
Margaret Willis, Director of Quality Assurance Services, DET NSW, also spoke about how the uptake of RPL is generally slow as it is seen as inflexible and not well supported by providers. The COAG project now looking at RPL has definitely thrown the spotlight back onto quality recognition. She said that RPL is NOT about tick and flick and not about providing a qualification that is 2nd best.
It should be providing the learner with confidence in life-long learning and there are several models of RPL that need to be investigated for the benefit of the candidate. Nationally, only 4% of candidates have been recognised through RPL and about 10% at Diploma level. RPL is still seen as too costly and too complex.
Brian Spencer in his paper discussed our professional judgement is so important in making assessment decisions. He reminded us that our expectations can shape our outcomes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Business Sales Video on POWER PROSPECTING?! I'm Excited!

What a busy period it has been for us at Management Consultancy International!

We've been recognised with four national awards in the last month including the covetted Australian Learning Innovation Award for 2009 from the Australian Institute of Training Developers for programs we run using LEGO Serious Play.

We've also had a such great response to the launch of our new Business Sales courses that we're celebrating by releasing a free Business Sales training video on POWER PROSPECTING.

Check it out here:

We all know that prospecting is a function upon which sales teams rely for their 'bread and butter' leads, however our experience and research working with organisations domestically and internationally has shown us that sometimes the basics can be missed.

In this video we're focussing on the most important Power Prospecting methods:
  • Warm Calling
  • Referral Sales
  • Executive Networking
Visit our YouTube Channel to check out our other Management videos:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Managing in tough times

I was at a great lunch last week and listened to Terry Davis, CEO of Coca Cola, talk about his organisation's approach to managing through tough economic times.
Terry maintains that we are nowhere near the bottom of the crisis and at the moment it is still a "rich man's recession". His organisation however is looking at different ways of retaining staff. The cost of retrenching and then re-training is way too high, he says. Often companies retrench first and think later. He prefers to do a full employment review and to rely instead on making structural adjustments and encourage leave to be taken where possible.

Another speaker at the lunch, Joe Hockey, said that the recession is encouraging us to become a more compassionate society. We now need to reach out to others who have been disadvantaged and give them the message of hope that we will all get through this and become a better society.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Winner - AITD Awards 2009

We are beyond excited!! We won the Australian Institute of Training and Development Award last night in the category of Australian Learning Innovation. We won for our "outstanding contribution to the practice of learning and development".
What a huge honour for us to be acknowledged in this way!
Our winning submission was for our LEGO Serious Play team building program at Toll Personnel that led to major changes in the culture of the team and some financial savings for the business.
Initially, when we arrived at the wonderful evening awards ceremony, we were not too confident about our chances...We were up against very strong finalists: Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Deloitte, Hudson Global Resources and American Express. We imagined all the wonderful programs that they had designed for their organisations and felt as though we were in a David vs Goliath type situation. We did not even give much thought to our acceptance speech...
Yet the judges commented that we had demonstrated how we could take a world-renowned methodology and adapt it for Australian business.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LEGO IDEA Conference 31 March 2009

The theme of this year's amazing LEGO IDEA conference was 'play to learn, play to create, play to innovate'. The opening address by LEGO CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp reinforced this theme as he spoke on what is 'systematic creativity'.
He said that LEGO itself is about creativity but there is also a system to it as things need to be put together. There are 1000's of bricks in different colours and shapes and everything is thought through in a very deliberate way.
In order to move organisations forward, you need both the "hard and the soft" - you need to be able to manage the paradoxes of both the emotion as well as the hard stuff. LEGO ensures that we bring both the play and storytelling as well as logical thinking and mathematical structure into problem-solving.
This is why LEGO is so vital in childhood development - we are enabling children to be creative in finding their own solutions. LEGO is as important in the business world as we learn more effectively through fun and play and igniting our inner urge to create.
We learn far better as adults and as children if we create something ourselves and if we become self-directed learners who can transform our understanding of systems.
Playing with LEGO encapsulates the full spectrum of being scientific and at the same time artistic. Sytematic creativity is defined as:
Using logic and reasoning alongside creativity and imagination to generate ideas that are surprising and new.
If we frame things in a positive way, we will see endless possibilities. LEGO means play well and encourages us to deliberately practise systematic creativity. It is an open system with infinite possibilities and becomes in this sense a social tool that fosters collaboration and the establishment of connections.

Danish artist Olafur Eliasson then reinforced this theme as he spoke about how creativity leads us not only to ask how things are done, but also why things are done. Often when we play, we lead ourselves into the 'why' and particularly when things are 3-dimensional we are led to behave differently.
Eliasson who is world renowned for his installations in the TATE modern gallery and in cities all over the world, sees systems as embracing both individuality and collective collaboration.

David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Westminster, emphasised the importance of making things in order to become more engaged with the world. People want to make their mark on the world - you see this as staff make their work cubicles uniquely theirs or as people bring up children in a positive way.
People also want to be social and make social connections.
All of this explains the power of LEGO - it is about making things and sharing meaning around what has been made. This is the antithesis of the 'sit back and be told' culture. Playing with LEGO is hands-on and minds-on. It takes away the fear of making mistakes. We don't want to hand solutions to the next generation - we want to give them tools to make them feel part of the world. We want to be able to stimulate their creativity to create a better world.

Mikkel Vahl of LEGO Education reminded us that several years ago MIT University was experiencing a 50% drop-out rate of students in their first year. As soon as the curriculum changed to becoming more hands-on, this drop-out rate came down dramatically.
When we ask people to find solutions themselves, when we ask open-ended questions, we set the stage for innovative possibilities.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to Basics Management

What has been very interesting over the past six months is seeing how managers in the variety of organisations we work with have responded to the current economic crisis.

The consistent theme we've noticed is that proactive managers are a returning to the basics; focusing on customers, communicating with staff, setting clear goals, managing expenditure levels and placing emphasis on quality.

Our latest management video describes the six basic skills which managers must focus upon in uncertain times:

  1. Communicate and delegate properly ensuring that all employees feel a sense of responsibility for tasks, are given appropriate levels of authority to complete those tasks and are held accountable for outcomes
  2. Analyse the Current Situation of your team or organisation
  3. Set Quality Goals which have been developed
  4. Motivate Your Team by creating a sense of challenge and rewarding efforts - not inherent ability
  5. Handle Change by responding to alarm with action rather than despair
  6. Manage Projects by conducting a thorough planning phase rather than responding to problems as they arise during implementation

When the outlook is bleak, resources are scarce and uncertainty is rife, managers will truly have their mettle tested. Can your organisation's leaders cut it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Big Skills '09 Conference - Innovation is the new black!

Yesterday I attended the Big Skills '09 conference in Sydney, hosted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The conference set out to stimulate discussion on skills and training at a strategic level.

My big take-aways:
  • The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) changes everything - including our skills strategy
  • The jobs that are being lost from our economy as a result of the GFC probably won't return even after our economy recovers
  • People are losing their jobs now who only a few years ago would never have considered themselves vulnerable and in need of re-skilling
  • Australian enterprises need to treat the GFC as an opportunity to restructure and invest in human capital
  • Some industries need to face up to the reality that they won't be around in ten years time
  • It is important to develop not only the workforce but also the workplace itself by using collaboration, teams and technology
  • We must be careful to not just develop people's skills according to short term need, but ensure people's capacity for learning is boosted - the new skills of adaptability & agility

The other big theme from the conference was the importance of leaders having strong management skills in order to boost and strengthen organisations' ability to innovate. Roy Green, Dean of Business at UTS described how innovation is critical to improving productivity, growth, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability.

It certainly drove home to me the importance of not only the management skills training which I am involved with in ensuring our organisations are productive and innovative but also the innovation programs which we have been rolling out at Management Consultancy International over the last year and a half, including LEGO Serious Play.

Here are my notes from the panel discussion:

Panel: Why Are Skills And Training Important In The Current Economic Climate?

Tony Jones’ Introduction:
  • Japanese trade has plummeted nearly 50%, their GDP has also plummeted
  • Japan is beginning to look more like its in depression rather than just in recession
  • Moving from 'Global Financial Crisis' (GFC) to a 'crisis of globalisation'
  • Governments must prepare for large-scale job losses
  • In Sydney today we lost 100 or more apprentices - like canaries in mineshaft
  • National skills base was in crisis before the GFC!
David Finegold - Dean School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University
  • Lowered opportunity costs for investing into training
  • Example of Toyota – used opportunities of recessions to improve their workforce and processes so that when demand picks up again
  • Develop long term capability
  • Green jobs will be more important
  • Philip Bullock – Skills Australia
  • Govt needs to be thinking how they can make opportunities for businesses to invest
  • Businesses which are looking for niche areas
Roy Green – Dean of Faculty of Business, UTS
  • In Australia we have moved from periods of complacency to adversity!
  • The key priority is a national recognition is that our competitive advantage is our knowledge and ingenuity – this must be put into policy; into a 'skills eco-system'
  • Investment / commitment to the innovative capability
  • It’s good to have an elegant innovation system instituted but it is what happens in business which is critical – that’s where the rubber meets the road.
  • When labour market does pick up again
Mmantsetsa Marope – Senior Education Specialist, World Bank
  • Africa's experience is that we must balance the basic skills with a capacity to take up unknown opportunities
  • Thinking outside the box to define skills as a specific capacity
  • The effects of the GFC - the poor and young will become more marginalised
  • Growth with equity is particularly important – mitigating the vulnerability of the potentially weak.
  • People who are losing their jobs now would have not thought themselves as vulnerable two years ago!
  • Fragility of life and the mercurial nature of planning
David Finegold
  • Jobs lost today are likely not going to return once the recession is over
  • It is important for our training organisations to be NIMBLE
  • Eg – ppl retrenched from recreational vehicle industry being retrained for orthapedic industry where there is long term demand in Indiana, USA
  • Singaporean model of creating a skill eco-system
  • City-state is more conducive because of geographic concentration
  • Government has been far more interventionist
  • The balance between the government being a fast-follower and innovator must be found clearly
  • The unique thing about this recession is that until we have some sense of faith in the financial system we won’t be able to implement some sort of solution
  • Major restructuring of executive re-compensation would have been off the agenda six months ago but it is now part of the agenda
  • WA – as mining boom goes down
  • Generation y has had it pretty easy – but now it is going to have it rough
  • Example is of apprentices in mining industry who were being paid 58k now being offered 18k outside of the industry
The UK's system of “Foundation Degrees”
  • Equivalent to the first 2 years of a 3 year full-time degree that leads to honours
  • England only at the moment – embedded in educational system
  • Set up to facilitate high level skills
  • Set up in response to skills shortage
  • Many people who never thought that they would be capable of being a part of tertiary education have participated and gone on to completing honours degrees.
Robyn Shreeve – Principle Westminster College London
  • UK – large infra-structure projects have been approved in order to counterbalance the reliance on the financial services sector
  • UK govt has guaranteed apprenticeships to everyone that wants one
  • The Rudd Government, despite their talks of having an education revolution scrapped the innovation program ‘Commercial ready’ – which was designed for companies which were having trouble accessing venture capital.
Patricia Neden - Innovation & Business Skills Australia
  • Focus needs to be on promoting companies that are entrepreneurial and innovative which will be emerging in the future
  • Emerging ‘Green Economy’ – the great hope for the future?
Debra Rowe - US Partnership For Education For Sustainable Development
  • Stop waiting to emerge from the recession/depression and instead use our capacity to recreate global financial systems that work in a way that is good for humanity
  • “Economics as if people really matter”
  • Make use of research about what quality of life is all about – not just growth
  • How do we measure success?
  • Not just green jobs – eg solar installers
  • All jobs - with new knowledge, skills – for example how to be an “effective change agent”
Is Obama administration serious about the Green Economy?
David Finegold
  • Social entrepreneurship – a whole new sector who want to make a difference – find ways which we can help these people make a difference.
  • Eg: using franchise systems to combine non-profits & for-profits to distribute medicinal drugs in Africa
New Zealand – National Skills Strategy
  • Didn’t just want another supply-side strategy
  • Demand side approach – because were not able to make changes to the tertiary educational system
  • It is important to get industry to be more intelligent about how they voice what their skills development needs – in a longer term manner
  • Some industries need to face up to the reality that they won’t be around in ten years time

What are your thoughts? How will the GFC affect your organisation's skills strategy?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Downturn Won't Last but Smart Companies Will!

In mid December we worked with the Canadian LEGO Serious Play partner to develop and implement LEGO® Serious Play™ workshops for Qantas in Sydney. Qantas is presently on a mission to improve their customer service in order to become the best airline in the world. What Qantas understands is that adopting a quality service-centered organizational culture is one of the smartest ways for an organization to improve their R.O.I. By using LEGO Serious Play with their teams, they were able to explore concepts and reinforce their new ideas to take them from good to great.
Companies like Qantas that position themselves within the marketplace as the leader in customer service will weather the economic downturn well and emerge as the industry leader as the Global Economy straightens back out after this shift. Once companies move into a leadership position it can be very difficult for trailers to catch up.