Archive for the ‘Governance’ Category

Book Review: ‘The Tyranny of Metrics’

Thursday, July 5, 2018

“There are things that can be measured. There are things that are worth measuring. But what can be measured is not always what is worth measuring; what gets measured may have no relationship to what we really want to know.”

This statement, and the subsequent arguments presented by Jerry Muller in his book ‘The Tyranny of Metrics’ (2018, Princeton University Press), were initially a challenge for me, with my background as an accountant. But I warmed to his argument and grew to appreciate what he was presenting.

Muller is a professor of History at Catholic University of America and the author of numerous books on markets and capitalism. He draws on publically available information, numerous research and reports to substantiate his position, and provides a number of supporting examples that are easy to relate to.

A central theme of the book is that ‘many matters of importance are too subject to judgement and interpretation to be solved by standardized metrics. Ultimately, the issue is not one of metrics versus judgement, but metrics informing judgement…” (p. 183).

I felt it was a very convincing argument which has caused me to consider the metrics I use and am exposed to. Being very well organized, with logical arguments and ample evidences, the book is easy to read over a relatively short space of time. It would appeal to anyone involved in developing or using performance metrics.

Overall, this book is a balanced and worthwhile read, and as noted, is not about the evils of measuring. Muller’s summary would be captured by this statement from page 4 of the book: “The problem is not measurement, but excessive measurement and inappropriate measurement – not metrics, but metric fixation”.

Reviewed by Warrick long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School

What’s Keeping You Awake at Night?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sustainability and long term growth prospects are what’s keeping Australian company directors awake at night, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Director Sentiment Index 2018 (Click here to access the report).

Other issues troubling the sleep of Australian directors include:

  • Structural change/changing business models
  • Corporate culture
  • Business reputation in the community
  • Data security

Do these issues resonate with you? What about the following trends identified in the report as having the biggest potential impacts:

  • Positive Impact:
    • Big data
    • Increased transparency
    • Automation
  • Negative Impact:
    • Mass retirement of older workers

Australian directors have a generally optimistic outlook for both the Australian and international economies, with NSW directors most optimistic for their state, and WA directors most pessimistic for theirs. While directors expect lower unemployment in the next 12 months, they also anticipate increases in inflation, wages and the ash interest rate over the same period. Growth is still expected, including an increase in profits. However, there is growing pessimism regarding the level of government red-tape and corporate reporting requirements.

Directors are also focusing more on corporate culture, with the three most significant ways of changing corporate culture being:

  • Regularly featuring culture on board and audit committee agendas
  • Capturing data on key cultural indicators
  • Communicating the ethical position of the board and business

As you reflect on your own business, are these issues similar or different to your own circumstance, and how these issues may impact your business. Most importantly, how prepared are you to face what is looming on the horizon. Avondale Business School is well-placed to help you position your organisation to ensure you enjoy success.

ABS Challenges Directors

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Board of Directors of Adventist Senior Living NNSW recently completed several modules of professional development, delivered by the Avondale Business School team. The sessions were held over three days, in February and May, and topics included the roles and responsibilities of directors, as well as finance, marketing, human resources and information management for directors.

Warrick Long and Associate Professor Lisa Barnes shared cutting edge practices and the latest research in these areas, also drawing on their extensive experiences as directors and leaders in the not-for-profit sector, including with aged care and disability services. The directors appreciated the interactive nature of the sessions, with up to date and practical information. Their feedback reflected that while they had been challenged, they were presented with easy to understand relevant concepts.

ABS presenter, Warrick Long, noted that “this is a great example of a board of directors taking their responsibilities very seriously, and endeavoring to improve their knowledge and sharpen their governance skills – it was a pleasure to work with them”.

The Avondale Business School has a suite of programs that can help your directors and leaders develop the winning edge for your business. For more information, contact Warrick Long to discuss customizing something unique for your organisation. Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

Avondale Business School collaborates with Business

Monday, May 15, 2017

Business and College collaboration is a wonderful way to enhance student learning. A recent excursion organised by the Avondale Business School to Sydney saw students visit 3 business to get insights into risk management, marketing, human resources and accounting.

The first business to open its doors was the Mascot Air Base facility. Manager of Airline safety lead them into the emergency procedures training facility which demonstrated the approach to risk management, in particular in relation to the evacuation of passengers in the event of an emergency. Students were privileged to be shown the various different aeroplane doors used to deploy passengers, rafts and survival kits. They were also shown the pool used for ocean training, in both the dark and in the rain.

Students were then put into the emergency procedure training simulator, where they experienced a crash landing in which the cabin lights turned off and the cabin filled with smoke. Students followed the orders of the cabin staff in relation to “evacuate, evacuate” and were led safely out of the simulator. Some students also were given life vests to deploy, and shown the various safety features such as the water activated light. Students had a better appreciation for flight crew and risk management procedures, after this confronting experience.

Students then headed out to Allianz stadium, for a tour of the facility. Students were taken down the ramp into the stadium, and the logistics of running the stadium that is shared by three different codes of sport (NRL, Rugby Union and Football) was explained. The marketing of the stadium signs, the sponsorship of the different codes and general keeping of the grounds were explained. Students asked questions such as who are the sponsors and what are the benefits of sponsorship from a marketing perspective.

Student then headed into the Sydney Roosters facility where they were led into the boardroom for an “Apprentice” style session (yes Mark Bouris is on the Board of the Sydney Roosters), by the Chief Financial Controller Mr Manuel Vlandis. Students were presented with financial information about the club and the challenges of running a rugby leagues club from a financial perspective. Questions were asked of the salary cap, costs of injured players, and how the model works in relation to revenue streams such as memberships, gate takings and sponsorship. The CFO was happy to answer the questions, and speak of his relationship with the Board and the new strategic plan they are currently developing.

Students then headed next door to the NSW Waratahs headquarters. There the player development manager Lachie McBain explained the complexities of running a rugby club, including issues such as preparing players for life after sport. He talked about the initiatives the club has in place for players such as further education and financial planning. He discussed the available careers in a rugby association, and his role in relation to his employer being RUPA (Rugby Union Players Association), formed to prepare players for life after sport. The club facilities were shown to the students, including the training areas, technology viewing areas and player lounge. Students asked questions in relation to membership numbers, revenue from Foxtel, sponsorship and player wages.

Feedback from the day included the following:

“It gave us insights into jobs where we do not see what happens behind the scenes”

“It was awesome to see business applied in a sporting context”

Avondale Business School will continue working with these businesses in the future, turning textbook learning into the reality of business. As the late Wallaby and Lawyer Ross Turnbull stated “There is nothing that I learnt in SPORT that doesn’t apply to BUSINESS, or LIFE” (2014). This excursion came from research done previously into the education of current sports people for their career after sport, a paper to be presented at the Global Conference on Education and Research (GLOCER 2017), which will be held during May 22-25, 2017 at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus in Sarasota, Florida.

 

Accounting is Dead! Long Live Accounting!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Accounting TrendsAccounting has been around for thousands of years, albeit in differing guises. As the society around it has changed, so has accounting. We no longer record information on clay tablets via hieroglyphics, and have even recognised that calculators are more useful than an abacus. But that doesn’t mean accounting should not keep on changing.

In a recent article by Rob Nixon (read it here) he points out three trends happening right now in accounting that will change the way accounting functions. While Nixon expands on these points in his article, in summary they are:

  1. Cloud computing – 24/7 access to real time data. Accountants can move from number-cruncher to information analyst
  2. Providing solutions – sending information to clients and stakeholders via newsletters, videos etc to keep them connected and informed.
  3. Data analytics – big data means loads of information that can supplement the traditional income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. The opportunity now exists for deeper analysis of trends and risks.

Accounting is changing, has changed, and we need to adapt to ensure we can meet the opportunities and challenges of this brave new world.

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

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

Four Ways That Accountants Turn To The Dark Side

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Accountant FraudAccountants and book keepers are not perfect. That may be a revelation to many, and unfortunately recent research at the University of NSW reveals that they have been known to commit fraud. Not all of them, of course, but a number of them

A recent online UNSW BusinessThink article (read it here) showcases research by Paul Andon, Clinton Free and Benjamin Scard into fraud by accountants in Australia, examining 192 successful fraud prosecutions. Essentially they found the four major pathways into fraud:

 

  1. Personal circumstances – “crisis responders”, people who have some personal crisis in their lives (like marriage breakup, gambling debts). This group is the most common (in excess of 50%), the majority of whom are female.
  2. Situational elements – “opportunity takers”, people who see an opportunity too good to pass up, and are often satisfying some need to take revenge or right a perceived injustice.
  3. Humans are fallible – that is, anyone is capable of fraud – people make mistakes.
  4. Attitudinal flexibility – “opportunity seekers” who are proactively looking to commit fraud, and “deviance seekers” who are calculating and unremorseful in their actions.

Interestingly the research also found that it frequently takes a long time to get caught. Warning signs to be on the lookout for include people not taking annual leave (for fear of being found out), and not having adequate separation of duties.

Fraud is committed by anyone, for a variety of reasons and motives. Are you reducing the risks of fraud in your organisation? If you would further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

Slow Deciders Make Better Strategists

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Strategy 3What contributes the most to making good competitive-strategy decisions – Education? Experience? Outsiders with new ideas? Mark Chussil, in a recent HBR Online article (read it here) shares some findings from data he has collected based on competitive-strategy decisions.

Chussil has developed a matrix of decisions, highlighting the four styles of strategy decision-making as follows:

Chussil

 

 

Chussil’s experience indicates that those in the best performing group are the “I don’t knows”. These are the people who take their time and consider alternatives before launching into making their decision.

This is opposed to those who “Already know”, and are overconfident, not really looking for other solutions, because they “already know” the answer. Close behind this group are the “Now I knows”, who have a high degree of confidence following pondering the issue for a time.

The lesson that Chussil draws out is to take a “not so fast” approach and really consider alternatives before committing to action.

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

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

Running Better Meetings

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Meetings 2It is a common fallacy that organisations that have a lot of meetings must be good at meetings. In reality, they typically just perpetuate the embedded meeting culture that is often not very effective. There is a wealth of resources on running effective meetings, and one of the latest offerings comes from Renee Cullinan in the April 29 2016 edition of HBR.org (Read it here), in which Cullinan identifies three of the biggest areas for improving meetings.

 

  1. Including Introverts

Noisy people are not necessarily smarter, they just think out loud and so create the impression they are. Introverts are typically much quieter and process information internally. Consequently it is very common in meetings for the loud people to dominate discussion and reach a conclusion or consensus before the quiet ones have had a chance to contribute, leaving the decision-making process the poorer as a result.

Cullinan advocates a number of potential solutions for this, one of which is to circulate the meeting material prior to the meeting, thereby giving the introverts an opportunity to read and process the material prior to the meeting, and to then come to the meeting prepared to contribute.

  1. Remote Team Members

People who join meetings via teleconference often find it hard to contribute and report feeling left out. It is not uncommon for them to zone out and do other work during the meeting.

Again, Cullinan has a number of worthwhile suggestions for inclusion, one of which is to use video technology as often as possible instead of teleconference, thereby giving people a visual reference and ability to be seen.

  1. Women

Numerous research efforts have proven that during meetings women are far more likely to be interrupted and their ideas taken less seriously.

Amongst the proposed solutions from Cullinan is to create a culture of not allowing any interruptions, irrespective of who is speaking, and to “call it when you see it”.

The Avondale Business School can help you ensure your meetings are highly productive – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

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.

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

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

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168