Posts Tagged ‘Avondale College’

The 5 Greatest Business Lessons Learned Through Failure

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Business MistakeRecently I came across a book review written by Max Nisan of the book ‘The Wisdom of Failure’ by Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey. You can find the full review here, and a link to the book here. Being a person who tends to make more mistakes than most, the title caught my attention and I read on.

The book was written because Weinzimmer realized that most of the great leaders he had interviewed told him their most important lessons in business came from their toughest challenges, not from imitating somebody else’s success. This premise is contrary to most other books on leadership that have the ‘Follow me and you too will succeed’ formulae.

In the course of distilling down all the lessons to just six, Weinzimmer also provides great examples to support his principles. As a teaser, here are five of those six lessons:

  1. Know when to quit;
  2. Say no to a quick buck;
  3. Don’t be defined by other businesses;
  4. Don’t try to be everything at once;
  5. Learn to delegate.

So perhaps in the coming weeks, why not pick one of these and see if your business is running the risk of not learning from other people’s failures. The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Are CEOs Born Leaders?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Born LeadersA just released paper looking at CEOs of Swedish firms has looked at the question of whether CEOs are born leaders.

One of the authors, Renee Adams from the UNSW Business School notes that the CEO’s of big companies typically have traits similar to doctors, lawyers and engineers. They are also generally smarter than the general population, but without being absolute standouts.

Commenting on these findings, leading demographer and a partner at KPMG, Bernard Salt believes that leadership is something that is within people that can be nurtured, mentored and developed. However, typically leaders who are CEOs tend to be generalists rather than stars. This is because “You might be brilliant at this and insightful at that, but if you can’t manage people or hang on to your PA, if people don’t like working with you, if you can’t string two words together, then you’re not going to make it.”

Typically one cannot be too different to the system, otherwise you get ejected while in your 20s and 30s.

Adams also found that CEOs are typically taller than the general population, but puts their success down to the confidence associated with being taller rather than the physical size of a person.

When pushed, Adams is swayed that people tend to be born leaders.

The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Fun Adds Value to Your Business

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fun at WorkA recent blog post caught my attention Why having fun at work is important, as this idea is almost an oxymoron for many employers I’ve been associated with over the years. I share this with you as the article goes on to cite the research that clearly demonstrates fun workplaces have tangible benefits for the business, which translate into financial rewards for the company.

Some of these benefits include less employee absenteeism, higher levels of productivity and innovation, and better levels of customer service. Surely these are all goals that any business would want to explore? Interestingly the millennials (born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s) are most interested in a fun workplace, but all groups want to have opportunity for quality socialising in the workplace – a simple and easy thing to do.

If you want to have the financial benefits that come from having a fun workplace, then here are three simple things, taken from the above blog article that you can do:

  1. Redefine your company culture
    Try to create an atmosphere where employees can feel comfortable, express themselves, and collaborate with others.
  1. Understand what your employees want
    Understand what passions your people have, and find a way to use them to bring your workforce together.
  1. Make monotonous activities more appealing
    Staff may want some added excitement in other areas or activities, such as training, because this can be a rather boring exercise at the best of times.

These simple starting steps do require some careful thought, but the pay-off can be worth it. The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Lessons from Starbucks

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lessons LearnedIf you don’t know who Starbucks is then you really need to get out more, read more, or watch more TV. Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse in the world (21,000 stores in 65 countries) and one of the fastest-growing companies in the USA.

I am a firm believer in learning from other people’s success (and failure) and applying those lessons to my own organisational context. There are some great lessons from Starbucks to be learned. If you are in the customer business (and every company, Church, School, Aged care entity is), then you can learn from Starbucks. These lessons all come from an article I read in Forbes (Read it here), where you can get the details on the following bullet points:

  1. Have a Mission
  2. Ask Your Customers Questions
  3. Know Your Customers and Employees
  4. Be Innovative
  5. Take Responsibility
  6. Go Against the Grain
  7. Embrace Social Media
  8. Everything Matters
  9. Choose the Right Partners
  10. Be Consistent
  11. Fit In With the Region
  12. Have the Right Leaders

Some readers will already be saying, “These don’t apply to my industry or business”, or “What does this have to do with me?” I guess all I can say is that Starbucks is successful and achieving growth at world-record rates. Are you?

The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Mental Health and Employees

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I remember the first time I realised that life was happening around me and that to get out of bed each day was a major effort. All my life I had been a high achiever, living life full on. Each day was a new challenge to see how much I could jam into the day. I am the ‘timeline’.

Mental HealthMy upbringing involved the idea that we as individuals should live a balanced, giving lifestyle. This was not a problem for me because I had a high work ethic, loved physical exercise and sport, loved church and Pathfinders and enjoyed studying and learning new things. So it was not a surprise to anyone when I found myself working full time, studying part time, Director of a Pathfinder club, Teen Sabbath School Leader and playing competitive Basketball and Squash each week.

Being a young person, wrongly I believed that endless energy was abounding. Meals were skipped, sleep was short (catch up on that later), alone time was minimal. God gives us guidelines for a reason. I figured I’d be okay, my job was at a SDA school, my study was to make me a more effective senior school teacher, Pathfinders and Sabbath School was for others and God. The exercise was for my own health’s sake, so I could do all these other things for other people. In my head I was doing all this for right motives.

During this time several negative incidences between other employees bullying and Church office holders abuse drained whatever energy I had left. Tears for no reason, anxiety attacks, and sleepless nights became the norm. What happened next changed my life forever.

My Principal acknowledged my plight and granted my request for leave. Then began the constant barrage of phone calls from the Deputy Principal about how I was letting everyone down. I returned to work to escape the guilt he made me feel. Ultimately resulting in me leaving school teaching and the place I lived.

The good news is that my next boss understood mental health and in a short time I had my life back with an exciting new career, wish I enjoy to this day. Thank God for his health principles and for granting me an understanding boss.

The following article inspired this response and is highly recommended reading:

“Senior managers need to speak up about mental health if they want their workers to thrive.” By Thea O’Connor In the Black 8th Oct 2015. Read Here >>

Nobody Cares How Hard You Work

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Long HoursAn article recently in 99U had this headline, and it really caught my attention. And you can read it here. Working through the available research, author Oliver Burkeman points out that most likely we “chronically confuse the feeling of effort with the reality of results”. That is, just because we have spent a long time at work doesn’t mean we have actually achieved anything of significance.

Burkeman highlights the “labour illusion” which is where people are more concerned that a job appeared to take an appropriate amount of time rather than whether it was actually done properly. He gives examples like the locksmith that became so good at his job he was able to do most things in little time, but then his customers complained that they felt cheated that it took him so little time and effort. Also, you know that little whirly thing on flight search pages that spins about while you are waiting for the best deal available? Well people would rather wait for a longer time with that showing, than not have it showing and get the results quicker, because it looks like the site is “working hard”.

He also brings to attention the “Effort Trap”, whereby spending a 10 hour day barely achieving anything other than routine is felt more worthy than spending two hours “in deep hard concentration on hard thinking, followed by a leisurely afternoon off”. Yet the two hours is more effective than the 10. Yet we still fall trap to the idea that hard work is what ultimately matters.

This idea lives in too many workplaces, where promotion is linked to the boss sensing the effort and hard work resulting from long hours, rather than your outputs. It should be more about making sure you are doing the right things, rather than just doing a lot of things.

Burkeman advises us to spend the first two hours of our workday on the most important tasks, and challenges us to consider limiting our working hours. Being tired at the end of the day is not a good indicator of a day well spent.

The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Award Winning Customer Service

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It’s a long story how, but I recently came across the website for the Australian Service Excellence Awards, hosted by the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA). Interestingly the 2015 awards will be announced this week (28 October, 2015) and there is much excitement leading up to this event.Customer Service

As I looked over previous winners and the various criteria, I was really interested that there were no “humanitarian” type entities listed. Even in the Not-for-profit category it was the WA Football Commission taking home the prize in 2014. It turns out that finalists are charged a $2000 site visit fee for the honour, which may put it out of the range of many entities.

However, I wondered whether it would still be a good investment for organisations who purport to care for people (for examples Churches, Schools, Universities, Aged Care, Hospitals, Etc.) to show they are at the forefront of customer service. Even though it makes good business sense to look after your customers, I believe there is also a moral obligation.

The criteria includes the following:

  • Company philosophy
  • People – training and development and their involvement in developing strategy
  • Innovation and Improvement
  • Responsiveness

And thinking of your customers, remember that there are two types – external (those who typically pay for our products and services) and internal (who experience your services like finance, IT, HR etc.). What value do you see in being leaders in customer service? How can you, in your role, positively impact customer service in your entity?

If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation improve your customer service please contact Warrick Long.


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6 Workplace Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Sunday, October 11, 2015

MythsJust a few days ago Forbes online published a blog with this title by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom (read it here) that really challenges conventional wisdom about the workplace. They look at six common beliefs and then dig into the research to find out whether it is actually true of not. Here are the ones they quashed:

  1. 8-hour work days lead to productivity
    Wrong! Research indicates that the most productive workers do not work a full eight hours in a day, and take 17 minutes of break for every 52 minutes worked. They also point out that some places are now introducing 6-hour work days with no loss in productivity.
  2. Money is the best motivator
    Wrong again. The research shows it is actually feeling appreciated and having good relationships at work that employees value most and keeps them motivated.
  3. Jump right in, put your head down, and get it done.
    Again, wrong. Instead, research shows that tasks are best accomplished by pausing first, asking plenty of questions, and taking time to tweak the project.
  4. High achievers make great managers.
    Sorry, this is wrong too. Instead, the research has revealed that great managers are those people who actually take them time to understand their people and their talent.
  5. Remote employees are less engaged.
    Uh Oh. Wrong. The research shows that employees who moved to working remotely experienced a sustained productivity increase of 13%. Not inconsiderable.
  6. Do what you love, and you will never work again.
    No – this is wrong as well. On this issue, the research notes that it is asking the question at the start of a project, “What difference could I make that other people would love?” that makes all the difference.

As you process these rebuttals to traditional thinking, challenge yourself to implement one of these changes and see if it works for you and your organisation.

If you would further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long


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Fraud in Your Organisation

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Workplace FraudLate in 2014 BDO released their 2014 Fraud in Not-for-profits survey (read it here), which yielded some very interesting results. While one would like to imagine that the altruistic nature of NFP’s means they are immune from fraud, this would be misguided, and in fact the evidence shows otherwise.

Unfortunately fraud in any organisation is a fact of life. KPMG’s most recent fraud survey of all organisation types was completed in 2012 (read it here), and a quick summary of their findings show that:

  • A total of $372.7m was lost to fraud, with 86% being in the financial services sector
  • There were 194,545 incidents in the 12 months
  • The average loss per organisation experiencing fraud was $3.08m
  • 47% of incidents were due to deficient internal controls.

The typical villain in the KPMG survey is:

  • Male (3 times more likely than a female)
  • An employee
  • Acting alone
  • No known history of fraud
  • Earns close to $110k per year
  • Typically motivated by greed/lifestyle or personal financial pressures.

Many organisations that the ABS InfoLink goes out to would be regarded as NFP, so let’s compare the KPMG all organisations survey to the more recent BDO NFP survey.

BDO found that frauds have been decreasing, but the average size ($22,904) and total amount ($3.2m) has increased. And surprisingly, 70% of those experiencing fraud had suffered it previously. Naturally organisations with a higher turnover are more likely to experience fraud. The average duration of the fraud was found to be 14 months.

The key risk factors for fraud amoungst the NFP community are poor internal controls and poor segregation of duties. Cash theft is the most common type of fraud, followed by kickbacks/bribery and fraudulent personal benefits.

The typical villain in the BDO NFP Fraud Survey is:

  • Paid employee
  • Non-accounting role
  • Over 50
  • Acting alone
  • Motivated by financial pressures and maintaining a lifestyle.
  • The higher value frauds were motivated by people with gambling issues.

What is fascinating is that 54% of the victim organisations did not report the fraud to police. Only 63% terminated the employee, and 53% did not recover any of the funds.

The three key factors in reducing fraud were found to be external audits, an ethical organisational culture and strong internal controls. Frauds were typically discovered by tip-offs and internal controls.

No matter what type of organisation you are, fraud is a very real and present danger. Having strong internal controls is the most effective way of reducing fraud. Unfortunately, just because you may be an NFP, does not mean you are exempt. The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on effective internal controls and managing your fraud risk – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Stress Busters

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ChaosIn the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale there are a number of events that if they occurred within the past year and when added together, can provide a rough estimate of how stress will affect your life. For an adult, death of spouse tops the list with 100 points. Divorce is next at 73 and so on. Incredibly, at number 7 with 50 points is being married – not getting married, just being married! It rates as more stressful than being dismissed from work (47 points), being pregnant (40 points), or the death of a close friend (37).

There are many more mild things that all add together to give us stress, and they need to be managed to ensure that we can live life to the fullest. Nicole Fallen from Business News Daily recently wrote about three changes we can do that will help us beat stress. The full article can be read here and is worth the time to do so, but the summary of these changes are as follows:

1. Change your habits

  • Schedule breaks into your day
  • Devote time to physical, mental and emotional self-maintenance
  • Keep a handwritten to-do list

2. Change your communication

  • Socialise with your co-workers
  • Use the right communication tools
  • Cut ties with negative people in your life

3. Change your mindset

  • Accept you’re not immune from stress – but remember that you can overcome it
  • Stop thinking you have to be right
  • Remember that all negative situations will pass.

Before leaping to conclusions or dismissing these suggestions, take the time to read the full article to see them in their context and what it is they are trying to achieve. It is time well spent.

The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


P: 02 4980 2168