Tech at Work – Leaders Need to Rethink their Approach

November 21, 2018 by Avondale Business School

Technology for people at work is now considered a ‘complicated’ relationship. Such is the assertion in the latest pwc TechAtWork report (read it here). Based on their international survey of 12,000 people, pwc reported the following key observations:

  • Leaders say they-re choosing tech with their people in mind, but employees don’t agree.
  • People want digital skills, but aren’t being given the opportunity
  • Employees value the human touch at work, but also like a digital assist
  • Efficiency and status drive interest in advancing digital skills.

It is well worth the time to read the full article, and to fully appreciate what these points are really making. But based on them, pwc make four recommendations for leaders on how to get more buy-in and interest in tech from their people:

  1. You can’t separate technology from your people’s experience and what motivates them
  2. Understand what it’s like to do the job
  3. Rethink who needs to be in the room when making decisions
  4. Upskilling is not traditional training – change your mindset.

Leaders of organisations need to review these recommendations, and benchmark themselves against them. The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with your leadership, to find out how, contact Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 49802168

Agile Leaders Do these Things

November 21, 2018 by Avondale Business School

There is no doubt the rapid technological and social change we live with no means organisations must become agile to survive, let alone thrive. Unfortunately our organisational systems have not kept pace with this change, ad unless they are able to become agile and that can evolve to the changing environment, they will fail. A recently publish paper by McKinsey&Company (link here) address what is meant by an agile company, and what is needed to be a leader of one. The characteristics of an agile organisation are:

  • Have a ‘north star’ embodied across the organisation
  • Work through a network of small, empowered teams
  • Use rapid decision and learning cycles
  • Have a dynamic people model that ignites passion
  • Use next-generation-enabling technology

The paper provides some guidance as to what is needed from leaders t lead an agile organisation. It’s important to note that to do so means changing self before trying to change the organisation. The 5 practices required of an agile leader are:

  1. Pause to move faster – create space for clear judgment and original thinking.
  2. Embrace your ignorance – listen – and think – from a place of not knowing
  3. Radically re-frame the questions – unblock your existing mental model
  4. Set direction, not destination – rather than a fixed goal journey with clear direction
  5. Test your solutions – and yourself

I will leave it with you to read the article in its entirety to get the full meaning of these tips, and it is well worth the time to do so, as the article also deals with changing teams and organisations. But don’t forget, it all starts with changing self. And if the Avondale Business School (ABS) can do anything to help you with your change process, just contact Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 49802168.

Board Memberships: Can you Contribute?

November 18, 2018 by Avondale Business School

Here at the ABS several of our staff are engaged with the community by being on Boards and offering advice to particularly Not-For-Profit Boards on issues of governance, strategic planning and financial analysis. Currently all full-time staff at the ABS volunteer their time for community engagement via occupying board positions or as members of sub-committees as shown in the table.

Being on a Board is usually voluntary, but what it means to the business is an over-arching strategic perspective that senior executives do not get in the day to day running of the business. The Australian Institute of Company Directors has issued its Corporate Governance Framework to assist particularly Not-For-Profit Boards, (www.aicd.companydirectors.au) in recognising their duties in relation to various legislative requirements of directors such as the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission) and ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).

Associate Professor Lisa Barnes has joined the Audit and Risk Committee for ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority) which is governed by the ACARA Act 2008 and the Public Governance & Performance Accountability Act 2013. At her first meeting they discussed the continued risks associated with the organisation and updated the current risk register in light the Boards risk appetite matrix. Members of the committee meet 4 times a year to support the Board in making sure the organisation is compliant with legislation, and that the organisation is continuing to assess its risks going forward particularly in relation to the information provided by the My School website (https://www.myschool.edu.au/) that enables Parents to seek information on schools.

A Trip down Memory Lane

November 18, 2018 by Avondale Business School

Being an Alumni of the University of Sydney, Assoc. Prof. Lisa Barnes was given the opportunity to walk the halls of her undergraduate days when she attended the 13th World Congress of Accounting Educators and Researchers, held at the new Ambercrombie Business School building, on 9-10 November, 2018. The conference was an initiative of the International Association for Accounting, Education and Research (www.IAAER.org).

The TRAC Model

The conference was attended by delegates from around the world and included symposiums as well as plenary sessions. A paper prepared from Warrick Long’s PhD entitled “Accounting Academic Workloads in the Higher Education Sector: Balancing Workload Creep to Avoid Depreciation” was presented. Delegates could relate to particularly the TRAC model presented, where it was demonstrated that Accounting Lecturers are undergoing a type of workload creep with the current changes to student cohorts and changes to the way in which accounting is taught in the higher education sector.

Erin Poulton, one of ABS’s sessional lecturers also presented a paper entitled “The Alzheimer’s approach to Financial Disclosure: the case of Australian Residential Aged Care Providers”. This paper was from Erin’s PhD and is timely in the fact that there has now been an announcement of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Honourable Justice Joseph McGrath and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed Commissioners. Justice McGrath is a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and Ms Briggs is a former Australian Public Service Commissioner. The Royal Commission’s interim report is to be provided by 31 October 2019, and its final report no later than 30 April 2020.

Erin’s recommendations in relation to disclosure of Financial Statements by Residential Age Care providers, is that currently they are inconsistent and inadequate and recommends the use of the General Purpose Financial Reporting (GPFR) standards when preparing accounts. She also recommends an audit of these accounts to enable the entities to release financial information to stakeholders to help them assess their ability to be sustainable, and make sure they family members are well provided for in the facility.

The conference website links are as follows can be found here.

ABS Graduating Students Learn to “Do Lunch”

November 18, 2018 by Avondale Business School

ABS graduating students were treated to lunch in celebration of the last 3 years of work they have put in to achieve their Bachelor of Business undergraduate degree, see link here to degree information. Students will attend graduation in December 2018, after finishing sitting their final exams in the next 2 weeks.

Graduating students have a range of majors from Accounting, to Marketing and Human Resource Management. Some students have already secured employment at organisations such as Sanitarium (https://www.sanitarium.com.au/), & Adventist Schools Australia (https://www.adventist.edu.au/).

Taking the students out to lunch was a chance for students to reflect on their journey, and give some feedback to lecturers on ways to enhance the journey for future students. Students shared stories on previous lecturers, and their quirks and lecturers also shared their experiences as an undergraduates. It was a great way for students to finish their final semester, and shows the importance of the care and service that ABS staff show towards their students. Clearly small class sizes enhances the student-teacher relationship, making it one of trust and care, instilling confidence in the students for their future success upon graduation.

The graduation ceremony will be held on Sunday, 9th December, 2018. Before that, students also celebrate graduation with a student dinner, breakfast with Avondale Staff and finally lunch with the President on graduation day. The ABS expects approximately 15 students to graduate this year, with three students making the journey from our Melbourne offering on the day.

We wish all graduating students from ABS well in their future, and will take pleasure in adding them to our ever growing list of successful Alumni. We also take pride in introducing them to the necessary business skill of “doing lunch”, where so many important negotiations in business take place.

ABS Students Ranked in Top 7 Globally

November 18, 2018 by Avondale Business School

ABS students in the final year unit ‘Strategic Responses in Business’ competed all semester in a globally run computer simulation, and ranked in the top 7 worldwide in most of the success measures!

In this unit, aiming to give the students a simulated business experience, the students managed a computer sensor company over an 8 year (fictional) period. For each year the students were required to make over 160 decisions involving marketing, financing, human resources, production, and R&D. Throughout the semester there were assessments based on competitor analysis, preparing minutes of meetings and compiling company reports based on their results.

The final assessment in the last week of semester involved the students holding an Annual General Meeting for their shareholders (Staff invited from throughout the College), in which they had to report on their companies’ operations and answer questions from their shareholders.

Following the completion of their AGM, their lecturer Warrick Long revealed to those who attended that of the success measures used by the simulation, this group of students achieved a ranking in the top 7 places world-wide in four of the seven success measures, beating 587 other teams in universities from around the world. This was an outstanding achievement from this group, involving Sarah Rosenberg, Andrew Bradley, Kody Dobson and Enzo Bocchino, and they should be justifiably very proud of their achievement. Well done.

Effective Leaders Do This

November 18, 2018 by Avondale Business School

So what is it that effective leaders do again? Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman in an article in INSEAD Knowledge (click here to read) outline the five key capabilities their research over decades has shown. Below is a brief description of each one, but I recommend you read the full article and challenge yourself on these areas. But don’t be too discouraged if you begin to feel inadequate, the research indicates it is truly rare to see a leader exhibit more than two or three of these.

  1. Sensemaking
    A leader who is constantly looking for more information, and who can then turn that into a “cohesive framework that helps others understand what the next move should be” exhibits this. I know many leaders with a thirst for knowledge, but very few of these are able to then integrate it effectively into their organisations.
  2. Relating
    “The glue that brings people together”. These leaders are able to listen, truly understand, and then rally support – in that order.
  3. Visioning
    This capability entails providing a compelling image of what could be, “linking vision to the organisations core values and mission, imparting optimism in the process”.
  4. Inventing
    “Keeping the trains running” summarises this capability, by “devising ways to bring a vision to life, which may involve reorganizing the way work is done, identifying key performance indicators, and measuring progress.”
  5. Building Credibility
    This is the key capability, which involves “gaining respect from others by keeping commitments and operating with a strong sense of purpose”. That is, they walk the talk and their actions match their words.

Remember, it’s not about being strong in every capability, but instead knowing your strengths and weaknesses, so as to find the right people to build and complete leadership team. And Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you archive this. To find out how, contact Warrick Long on 02 49802168 or Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

When the Minority Knows More Than the Majority

October 31, 2018 by Avondale Business School

Majority rule is no longer the best way to run a board meeting. Randall Peterson writes in his article ‘It’s Time to vote Majority Rule off the Company Board’ (click on the link to read) mounts the case that the simple majority potentially makes a worse decision when they ignore the views of people appointed to the board because of their specialized knowledge. With more directors being appointed because of their specialist as well as general knowledge, boards need to ensure they are listening to those view.

For example, as Peterson notes, “majority-rule voting actually fails when the will of the majority is used to silence legitimate and specialist minority voices. What is right for the many ought to prevail, but not at the expense of the rights and specialist knowledge of a minority.” A healthy board culture exists where such a minority director can challenge their boardroom colleagues, and be given a fair hearing.

Peterson makes the distinction between a suboptimal decision, and a decision that the board member believes to be totally wrong. The expression used is to develop qualified consensus. This occurs when a majority are in favor, and no one believes the decision is fundamentally wrong.

The article notes soon to be published research that reports 64% of board directors in a global study reported misunderstandings in the boardroom to be commonplace, and one-third reported the need to revisit decisions! Providing some tips on how to improve this, Peterson suggests:

  • Get the right team on the board and prioritize their learning – that is, specialist directors have a role in teaching and advising fellow directors, not making decisions solo.
  • Encourage trust and ‘psychological safety” amoung team members
  • Openly share information to create understanding of the problem – that is, before suggestion solution, work out what you do and don’t know about the problem.
  • Highlight specialist knowledge in the team from the start

This is a very quick summary of a very challenging idea – one whose time has probably come – in changing the culture of boards to better utilize the specialist knowledge it contains. If you would like assistance with your board, contact Avondale Business School (ABS) at abs@avondale.edu.au.

Book Review – Kill Bad Meetings

October 31, 2018 by Avondale Business School

Cut 50% of your meetings, transform your culture, improve collaboration and accelerate decisions. This is the claim of authors Kevan Hall and Alan Hall in their 2017 book ‘Kill Bad Meetings’.

Frustrated at inefficient, ineffective and unnecessary meetings, the authors draw on their considerable business experience and research to show how meetings, well run, can be good for business. More than just providing training, this book looks to systematically change the meeting culture of organisations.

I found the book to be a very useful tool in examining meetings, and providing guidance to organisations on saving time and money. The structure is built on why better meetings assist your business, then turns to the unnecessary meetings, topics and participant of meeting. For example, they note research that indicates 10% – 20% of participants at meetings should not be there at all. The third section gives excellent advice for designing better meetings, and is followed by how to improve meeting flow. The book concludes with a section on how to embed the changes and overcome resistance to change.

Peppered through are practical tips and action steps to ensure the ideas can become a reality. This is a really well organized book that is well written, easy to read and very helpful. Highly recommended

Warrick Long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School.

ABS Mentoring Sessional Staff

October 31, 2018 by Avondale Business School

Dr Erin Poulton and Associate Professor Lisa Barnes recently attended the Melbourne International Business and Social Science Research Conference 2018. There, Erin presented a paper based on her PhD entitled “Financial Disclosure by Australian Residential Aged Care Providers: Are They Suffering Dementia?”

Conference papers can be accessed from the conference website at http://www.melconference.com.au/public/

Erin has been a sessional staff member at the ABS for 2 years, but the history behind her relationship with Lisa Barnes has spanned over 10 years, with Lisa teaching her at undergraduate level, was her supervisor for her honors’ degree, and also supervisor for her PhD. Mentoring of younger staff members is an important part of the ABS strategy for retaining great staff, and getting research outcomes.

The conference was presented by the Australian Academy of Business Leadership (AABL), of which Lisa is on the advisory board. Lisa was asked to Chair the conference and provide the keynote address entitled “Collaboration and Networking for Research Excellence”. This is the 23nd conference of AABL, and 4th conference in Melbourne. The conference was represented by academics of 26 institutions from 10 countries. The Australian Academy of Business Leadership can we accessed via its website at https://www.aabl.com.au/public/.

For this Melbourne conference, research papers were from key areas including Education; Social Business, Environment and Sustainability; Accounting, Economics and Finance; Management and Marketing and Multi-disciplinary areas. Abstracts submitted to this conference were subject to double blind peer review to ensure the highest level of academic quality and relevance.

Erin and Lisa enjoyed the conference, meeting new academics from around the world and of course contributing to the Melbourne economy by visiting local restaurants and getting a little retail therapy!