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Is your competitor about to steal your audience?

Surviving and thriving in 2014 is about designing prospective strategy and exploiting business opportunity.

Strategy, which drives all organisations, has for over a century rested on a tried and tested approach that has generated the same results. It is the organisations that are bold and do things differently that benefit from the norm of complacent strategic practice. 

Strategy is simply driving an organisation from point A to point B. Fashioned with a vision and powered by a mission, its success is measured by the accomplishment of goals and survival in industry. However the strategy is informed by data, which is sourced from retrospective performance. So in this way it is much like driving the company forward but navigating by using the rear vision mirror.

Business Opportunity Strategy is the ability to expand such hindsight however to make room for insight and foresight. Prospective Strategy is potent and powerful. It is built on the Design Intelligence Framework. Design is about the creation of solutions for tomorrow that don’t yet exist today. Design has an undoubtedly prospective quality. Design Thinking and Design Intelligence are not about manufacturing or technology, they are about being able to inform your enterprise’s strategic vision with prospective data and innovation.

In order to maximise Business Development in 2014, every Australian Enterprise will need to adopt a Design Leadership position. Each organisation will need to design a prospective Strategy. One that will be able to influence the audience and drive the enterprise into new markets and take greater market share. Because if you don’t your competitor will. In fact globally our competitors offshore are already adopting this Business Development approach and stealing your audience.

Somewhere in the early ‘noughties’ Apple decided to enter the mobile phone market. While Nokia, Hutchinson, Motorola, RIM, and Samsung where complacently following each other’s ‘planned obsolescence’ strategy, Apple was designing a mobile phone built for a future audience – a user of the late noughties. A mobile user who needed only one button, a touch pad interface, global connectivity, personalised applications. Apple then built a strategy of enterprise around this design and in 2007 it stole over 80% of the market share.

Design of prospective strategy can be very potent. It can, like Apple, obliterate the competition and catapult your enterprise to industry juggernaut.

George Nelson is the CEO of Design Intelligence Strategy consultants, Opportunity Logistics. Opportunity Logistics has been building prospective strategy for over 15 years for government, stock-listed firms, SMEs and community organisations.

This year, the Australian Institute of Management is launching an exciting new podcast. Each month, The Management Insider Conversation  ……. with Leon Gettler and Garry Barker, two experienced journalists with close to 90 years’ experience between them,  will tackle key issues confronting managers today: women in leadership, corporate endurance, the value of MBAs and other qualifications, how to network to advance your career, how to deal with absenteeism and more.

The beauty of these podcasts is that they can be listened to at any time: on your computer, on your tablet or phone when you’re in transit. The podcasts combine the immediacy of radio with the insights of management literature, a two-for-one deal. They can be shared, they enable self-paced learning, help develop ICT skills and create a richer learning environment.

Podcasts are a unique way to develop emphasis for anyone training to be a leader. Unlike ordinary audio recordings, they can be accessed anywhere from a computer to a tablet to a phone. This creates greater immediacy for managers who are always on the go.

Podcasts can also generate effective feedback, and increase engagement with a particular scenario or idea. These are the very qualities that structure and deepen learning in the online environment.

But what really sets podcasts apart from other news and information broadcasts is the relatively short length, the clarity of the content, and the fact that they can create a self-paced learning environment. The best podcasts are vivid and arresting, and supplementary to what is covered in traditional classrooms. Also, the material delivered in a podcast should be provocative and should aim to make people think, a critical part in the development of future leaders.

You can listen to our first AIM podcast here and check the AIM Update for details.

In November last year the Business Council of Australia and the Male Champions of Change both released significant reports calling on business to do more about maximising the potential of their female and male talent.  The press covered both announcements at length.  Over the weekend, International Women’s Day was heralded by the sound of women executives, politicians and community leaders across Australia demanding better gender equality in management and leadership.

So are we finally at a tipping point to address the persistent dearth of women in leadership positions across Australia?

I think these laudable and important initiatives combined with the new reporting requirements that come into full effect this year under the Workplace Gender Equality Act represent the burning platform this issue needs to finally secure the leadership commitment needed to drive lasting change.

Why? Business’s attempts to improve gender equality will now be informed by standardised gender composition data across five defined management categories that will also promote transparency and allow employers to compare their performance with their peers.  If we believe women and men are equally capable, that means everyone will be able to assess how well a business is leveraging its female talent. 

Standardised performance metrics are also the foundation of targets and management accountability measures – both of which are critical for removing the structural and cultural barriers that inhibit the ability of women to progress into leadership positions.

The next critical step is ensuring business invests in building the skills and capabilities needed to develop the full potential of their talent. We know a mark of a good people manager is an ability to nurture the unique capabilities and development aspirations of their team members.  That means actively pursuing growth opportunities for talent, providing flexible working environments so everyone can manage their work demands and life ambitions, seeking and valuing different perspectives, and clearly articulating, measuring and rewarding outcomes, not inputs.  Master these management skills and you will drive the engagement of your people and the productivity of your workforce. 

Interestingly, these attributes are also among the enablers of workplace gender equality.  That’s why I believe gender diversity is another hallmark of management capability that all good managers should be focused on achieving.  It’s also among the reasons why clients should demand diversity from their suppliers and why investors should expect it from the companies in which they invest. 

It also explains why the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is focused on delivering employers practical tools and resources informed by best practice knowhow, so that organisations can develop the requisite capabilities to develop women across their workforce.

It’s time we all recognised gender equality is about management best practice.  Like any business imperative whether it be gaining and maintaining market share, improving customer satisfaction or reducing your cost base, it requires constant attention and an unwavering commitment.

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Yolanda Beattie is the Public Affairs Executive Manager at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

To be recognised as a 2014 member of the exclusive AIM30 Under 30 is an exciting achievement. It’s a significant career accolade to celebrate with family, friends and colleagues, as well as a chance to reflect on one’s career journey to date. For me, this has been a journey with a sport and community focus.

I firmly believe that business presents an opportunity to influence social improvement and positive change. This has become only more apparent as my career has progressed. There was once a time when a phrase like ‘triple bottom line’ would have sounded more like an aerial ski jump manoeuvre than something for me to understand and embrace within the organisational context. However times change and I’ve now come to learn – and share – that with high profile and brand value comes social responsibility.

When your employer possesses a highly visible brand, the glare of the spotlight can be both intoxicating and distracting in equal measure. In the business of sport this is only accentuated. However the advantages do outweigh the disadvantages. The occasional moments when you wish for a lesser employer profile are considerably offset by the frequent moments when profile is the greatest asset in telling your brand story.

As Head of Community at the Essendon Football Club, I enjoy a rewarding remit. I lead our important work across a broad range of external community relationships, including charities, sporting clubs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. The opportunity to leverage an organisation’s brand to support and grow another’s is an important and satisfying activity.

This though, clearly, is not a new or particularly ground-breaking concept. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Community Investment (CCI) are both widely known and adopted principles, and we have witnessed the emergence of Porter’s Shared Value model across the Australian professional landscape.

For me though, it simply comes down to caring about your community.  It’s all about displaying a genuine willingness to listen and respond to needs. Authenticity is critical and cannot be imitated.

When a now former player was diagnosed with cancer, the business rallied around the individual and his very personal fight. This support led to what has become an 8 year charitable partnership with the Cancer Council Victoria to raise funds and awareness for men’s cancer-related illness. This and other partnerships have continued to shape our business, and helped carve out our proud identity as a club that embraces community needs because it understands its responsibility and impact.

It’s important to declare that leveraging your brand to support others can be challenging work – expectations can feel overwhelming. However there is no apology required for being ‘strategically supportive’. A business case should sit beneath community decisions –not for the purpose of financial return, but for social return.

Contracting the London Benchmarking Group as an independent evaluation partner has proven to be a helpful measurement technique for understanding our inputs, outputs and impacts. This, coupled with a range of internal evaluation mechanisms, allows for a thorough assessment of partnerships and program delivery.

In an age when brand is everywhere and is seemingly everything, I encourage young managers to consider how their personal brand and values fit and compliment the brand and social purpose of their employer.

There is some remarkable and rewarding work to be accomplished.

Cameron Britt is the Head of Community at Essendon Football Club. He is also one of  the AIM30 Under Thirty for 2014.

There are 500 000 reasons why Australia needs to solve the performance problems of the nation’s middle managers. That’s the number of middle managers there are in Australia and our latest survey research project confirms that many of these managers are underachieving.

The Australian Institute of Management survey data shows that efforts to improve the productivity and performance of organisations are being stymied by inefficient and under skilled middle managers. The survey, ‘Middle Managers – Evaluating Australia’s Biggest Management Resource’ was conducted in conjunction with Monash University and involved 1,898 business people ranging from CEOs and business owners to middle managers and aspiring managers.

Middle managers make or break an organisation. They are the ‘bridge’ in organisations that connect the goals and strategies of top level management with the ambitions and work practices of lower  level staff. Therefore, middle managers are crucial to the success of any productivity or change management programs.

The survey participants said middle managers in their organisations are significantly under performing across the range of key indicators including people management, communication and leadership. As Grant Anderson FAIM, CEO of leading Australian exporter ANCA, said in the Australian Financial Review this week: “Over the years, we’ve all been critical of middle management, but that’s a senior management problem. It is senior management’s job to pick people who have the potential for leadership roles and train them appropriately. Quite often people come up from the shop floor but have never had management training.”

People management is ranked by survey participants as the most important middle management skill ahead of communication and leadership. However, the majority (52%) of middle managers’ skills in people management are average or below average, according to their non-middle manager colleagues who participated in the survey.

Middle managers are ranked even more poorly by their colleagues on their communication and leadership skills. 55% of participants say the communication skills of middle managers in their organisations are average or below. On leadership, 59 percent say the skills of middle managers are average or below. Further, despite the critical need for middle managers to show leadership, just 24 percent of middle managers say their leadership performance is being effectively measured.

The worst ratings for middle managers from their colleagues relates to ‘strategic influence’ (70% said skills were average or below) and ‘change management’ (69% said skills were average or below).

It’s impossible to have a vibrant workplace culture and be a high achieving organisation, if your middle managers are under skilled and disengaged. It’s clear from the findings of our survey research that the role and responsibilities of middle managers deserve much greater respect in the Australian workplace. Organisations need to ensure their middle managers are appropriately skilled and they must also give their middle managers the opportunity to show what they can do, and measure their performance.

Recently being selected as one of the AIM 30 Under 30 has given me cause to reflect on what it takes to achieve success at a young age.

Success, of course, means many different things to different people. I think of success as the accomplishment of a useful aim or purpose. Using this definition, to be successful you must first have a specific aim or purpose.

 

To better understand the impact of having a written purpose, late last year I undertook the 100 day challenge – a program designed to accelerate achievement through goal setting in any area of your life. I decided upon three specific aims, one work-related and two personal. My work-related goal involved sharing insights on the importance of innovation with 25 companies I had not met before. My personal goals involved completing my first solo flight and volunteering with Angel Flight.

 

I have read that three of the five dysfunctions of a team include a failure to focus on goals, an absence of commitment and a lack of accountability. These potential pitfalls would not be acceptable as part of the 100 day challenge – this was going to be an interesting learning experience!

 

By the end of the 100 days I had achieved more than I thought was possible. The structure and commitment to a few specific goals in this challenge really highlighted the importance of defining your purpose and the need for discipline and accountability.

 

Success in the 21st century requires managers to consider all aspects of their life so they can become authentic leaders and balanced as a person. I encourage all young managers to consider their lives as a whole when defining their career path.

 

One way of doing this is to understand and create your life story. This process encourages important self-reflection and builds self-awareness. The great thing about your life story is that you can build it any way you want, you don’t need to be preoccupied with the past or the identity other people might have shaped for you.

 

When building your story, know that being open and authentic is an excellent way to build trust. In addition, if you are in touch with your values, you can define a career path that aligns with those values and that will ultimately provide you with greater satisfaction.This will ensure you have your “mojo”. While we all have extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, the intrinsic tend to provide more sustained satisfaction.

 

By understanding yourself and writing your own life story, young and experienced managers will be in a much better position to inspire and empower others and deliver superior results.

Aaron LePoidevin is a Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers and one of AIM’s 2014 30 Under 30.

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In the wake of last year’s historic merger between AIMs VT, QNAN and SA to create a single unified AIM body, AIM Group, 2014 marks a new era in AIM history and a highly anticipated opportunity to consolidate the talents, energy and resources of the individual AIMs to deliver a united AIM that is stronger, smarter and has infinitely greater reach and influence than ever before. As the newly appointed CEO of AIM Group, I thought it would be appropriate for me to take a minute to share some of my ideas on leadership and the future of AIM here on Management Insider.

 I believe a united AIM will be uniquely positioned to be a leader in the advocacy and professional development of business, management and leadership in Australasia and I know I’m not alone when I say I’m excited to explore the many challenges and opportunities this merger promises to deliver.

I’m inspired by the challenge that our Professional and Corporate Members have given us….to take the history, strengths, and regional heritage of our past and propel AIM into a high-performance national and international future.

In my experience, the most effective way to create a high-performance culture is by continually revisiting and re-enforcing 7 simple values and practices:

  • Being fiercely customer focused – businesses get it badly wrong when they lose focus on their customers.  For AIM, the needs of our Professional and Corporate Members must always be paramount.
  • Integrity and Honesty – these are often espoused values that in my experience are rarely followed. Most of us are happy to be honest when news is good, but shrink from delivering difficult feedback.  If you truly care about people, and not just say you do, you have to be prepared to respectfully, skilfully and clearly deliver the hard messages.
  • Ideas, Energy, Commitment – Ideas are the currency of the engaged mind.  Energy shows you’re serious about making positive change.  Ideas and energy, when coupled with a personal commitment, make a formidable combination.
  • Proactivity – there is one thing I can almost guarantee, and that is that the AIM Board and Executive Team don’t hold a mortgage on good ideas.  I encourage every member of a team to speak up and share how we can improve our business. You can’t fix a problem unless you know it’s there and if no one speaks up people will be doing that same dumb process or procedures for decades to come!
  • Right People, Right Role – businesses are built on skilled and engaged people capably serving their customers and staff – the critical element of this model is getting the right skills and energy into roles that can make a real difference for customers and staff.
  • High Expectations– in simple terms I get paid to be unreasonable – to set stretching goals, to challenge people to do what they thought was impossible, to get people to move from asking why, to asking why not, to constantly ask “Are we the best in the world at this?”
  • Communication – finally, communication is at the heart of collaborating successfully with each other and with customers. It’s essential that leaders employ a range of communication tools to keep every team member and every customer up-to-date and engaged. 

For me, a high-performance culture is about creating an environment where people achieve things they never thought possible.  The magic formula for creating a high-performance work environment includes a compelling vision and a clear strategic plan to achieve it, clear accountabilities, great personal commitment to the cause, clear and visible measurements that ensure everyone is exposed to the positive and negative side of performance, and a culture that seeks to celebrate success while still constantly striving for more. 

So I look forward to communicating my vision for AIM’s future, to creating and implementing a clear strategic plan and demonstrating my enormous personal commitment to the AIM cause in the coming months and years. As a unified body AIM Group has the potential and the opportunity to grow into an innovative, dynamic and high-performance entity that will not just advocate and support great management but will help shape and influence the leadership landscape in Australia – and the world.

Daniel Musson is the Group CEO of the Australian Institute of Management.

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A recent Innovation Survey we conducted with Melbourne University highlighted a prevailing lack of business leadership as the primary impairment to workplace innovation and business profitability in Australia. In light of this, I sat down on Tuesday with Federal Minister for Small Business the Hon. Bruce Billson, innovation expert Professor Danny Samson and a select handful of accomplished innovators for a roundtable about how we can better foster a culture of innovation in Australian workplaces.

Below are some simple steps we all agreed business leaders could take to ensure a profitable and sustainable culture of innovation…

Be at the main game.

Don’t wait for innovation to happen to your business – go out and find it! Look everywhere from your own backyard to the far corners of the globe. Inspiration for innovation is everywhere but it won’t just fall into your lap.

Show your hand.

Be a mentor. Get a mentor. There’s a serious cultural flaw in Australia of great innovation being a closely guarded secret. Sharing smart innovation and the processes that inspired it generates more and better innovation – it’s a healthy and productive cycle.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Be willing to invest time, energy and resources into the cultivation and execution of innovative ideas. Keep an open mind to new processes and approaches and don’t be scared of failing – if you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not truly innovating! Really great ideas are often inherently risky – if they weren’t, everyone would be doing them.

Know When to Call Stumps.

Make sure you’re measuring the impact of new initiatives. If you’ve given it everything you’ve got and it’s just not working, shut it down and move onto the next great idea. There’s no point clinging to an idea that’s not working out purely because you’ve already invested in it.

Are you a business leader struggling to cultivate more innovative business practices? Or have you already successfully found ways to innovate in your workplace?

Which Australian businesses or organisations do you see as leading the way with innovation?

Tony Gleeson is the CEO of the Australian Institute of Management – Victoria & Tasmania.

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Australia’s reputation for high quality, health and safety standards and its clean, green environment have helped create a strong nation brand for our businesses to leverage. In markets everywhere, it is generally a plus for products to be recognised as Aussie.

As a result, country-of-origin (CoO) branding represents a significant opportunity for businesses making and growing things right here – and employing Australians in the process.

 

There are a number of ways business can identify their products as locally made or grown, but the only registered certification trade mark for country-of-origin claims is the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo. Recognised by more than 98% of Australians and trusted by 88% as a true identifier of genuine Aussie products and produce, it is by far the most effective – and it has been for more than 28 years.

 

People don’t just buy Aussie out of a sense of patriotism or to support our growers and manufacturers – although those reasons are valid and do play a part – they buy Aussie products because they very often offer better quality at a competitive price.

 

As we approach Australia Day for 2014, when there will again be an outpouring of national spirit and patriotism, the Australian Made Campaign is encouraging consumers, businesses and government to ‘Make Every Day Australia Day’. This initiative celebrates Australia’s delicious, nutritious food and high quality products, and is aimed at tying great Aussie traditions, like the backyard barbie, together with Aussie-made and Aussie-grown products.

 

According to recently released research conducted by Roy Morgan, buying Australian-made matters more to us now than it did a year ago, and we regularly buy local, even if it comes at a small extra cost. More than half of the respondents surveyed (55%) said that buying Australian-made had become more important to them in the last 12 months. Just one tenth of the respondents (12%) said that they would not buy Australian products if they were more expensive.

 

However, according to the researchinto corporate purchase behaviours businesses are not following suit. Very few businesses (20%) have a firm buy local policy in place and a significant percentage (34%) have neither a policy nor a preference for buying local. The hope is that greater awareness of the benefits of buying local will encourage businesses to revisit their procurement policies. In the context of corporate social responsibility messaging, there is a ready connection with local sourcing and this would suit many businesses.

Australian Made recognises the pressure that many Aussie businesses are under in the marketplace from cheap imports and the need therefore to keep costs down, but we urge them to consider local sourcing wherever possible.

*Roy Morgan Research 2012 www.australianmade.com.au/resources/research

Ian Harrison is the Chief Executive of the Australian Made Campaign.

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