Posts Tagged ‘ABS’

When the Minority Knows More Than the Majority

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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

Book Review – Kill Bad Meetings

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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

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

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!


ABS Head Helps Judge Central Coast Business Awards

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The ‘Helloworld Erina Group’ 2018 Central Coast Regional Business Awards were hosted by the Central Coast chapter of the NSW Business Chamber, at Crowne Plaza Terrigal. The evening is about celebrating business excellence in the Central Coast Region. Finalists and award winners across 11 categories celebrated with the evening culminating with the presentation for the 2018 Central Coast Business of the year! The Dress Code was Black Tie & Formal. The evening was attended by Lisa Barnes who was also one of the judges of the awards.

The finalists on the night included the following:

“The judging was a huge challenge as there are so many great regional businesses out there who are doing really innovative initiatives and demonstrating that even though they are regional they can still play in the arena with the bug businesses” said Lisa Barnes. The Central Coast NSW Business Chamber provides a voice for Central Coast businesses. They advocate governments and authorities at local, state and federal levels to create a better commercial environment.

The big award winner of the night was The Australian Reptile Park who took out the award for Central Coast Business of the Year 2018. Congratulations to all finalists and winners on the night.

Maybe the Difficult Person is You!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Perhaps there are no difficult people – only situations in which people seem to us to be difficult. Author Adam Kahane takes a quick look at those situations where we find ourselves having to work with people we consider difficult. He writes about it in a short blog (find it here) that is worth a quick read.

Kahane gives three things for us to think about when we are facing those people we consider to be difficult. In summary these are:

  1. Create low-stakes spaced: That is, start off by just listening, or trying things our, or just having a meeting. These are early opportunities to experiment with creating new connections with the person.
  2. Look for patters in your frustrations: In particular, see if we are actually part of the problem, and can then work to be part of the solution.
  3. Practice letting go: We have the choice about who we work with – sometimes the best choice is to choose not to work with someone. That’s ok.

In concluding, Kahane reminds us that none of this is easy or foolproof, but if we want to be able to collaborate, then we have to be willing to change ourselves. And the Avondale Business School is able to help you with change. To find out how, contact Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or

Have you updated your Director’s qualification?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Associate Professor Lisa Barnes attended a 2 day update workshop in Brisbane last week run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. The course was attended by members who had previously completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course, but had not been updated in the last few years. The course attendees were made up of actively serving board members from listed companies, the not-for-profit sector as well as the government and private sectors. The link to the AICD website is

The updated course covered recent topics such as the Royal Commission into the Banking Sector, the legal environment that company directors operate in, as well as fiduciary duties and responsibilities of company directors in both the civil and criminal legal environments.

Other topics included definitions of conflict of interest, board composition, board remuneration, board risk, the importance of strategy as well as understanding financial papers in light of the Centro case. All topics covered were discussed and case studies presented and discussed by participants.

The 2 days ended with 3 groups being allocated different roles (Board, Remuneration Committee, Risk Committee) and a case study given where participants had to role play different scenarios and present to a board for discussion in light of a crisis, being either a legal issues, a risk issue or a strategy issue.

Lisa Barnes attended the course in her role as Vice Chair of a not-for-profit organisation called “Coastlink” who provide disability respite care to youth on the Central Coast. She has recently been appointed to the Risk & Audit sub-committee of ACARA, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority which is an independent statutory authority that hopes to improve the learning of young Australians. They currently administer the NAPLAN program. ACARA was established under Section 5 of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority Act (Cth) on 8 December 2008. Lisa will take up the new position in November 2018.


Humble Leadership – Book Review

Friday, October 19, 2018

What does a very successful US Nuclear Submarine Commander, a Spinal Surgeon, a Silicon Valley Start-up, and a major hospital all have in common, apart from their success? In these particular examples it is Humble Leadership, as described by Edgar and Peter Schein in their just released (2018) book ‘Humble Leadership – the power of relationships, openness and trust’, published by Berrett-Koehler.

The authors view Humble Leadership as requiring a certain kind of mindset, certain attitudes toward working with others, and skills in working with groups Their purpose in writing this book is to move reader to think as much, or more, about the process of building relationships at work as they do about the content of the work itself (p. 130).

I found this book appealed to me because of two main aspects. Firstly it dealt with the “soft skills” of leadership that are rarely written about in such a practical way, and secondly, it provided a wealth of examples that made it so much easier to contextualize the concept into many different settings. The chapter that provided some “how-to’s” and resource links was pretty handy also.

A key tenet of the book is to encourage leaders to move from Level 1 leadership (traditional transactional approaches) to Level 2 leadership (personal relationship based), and potentially in some rare cases to Level 3 leadership (emotionally intimate total mutual commitment).

This book was easy to read (I read it over a few evenings) and very practical. It is current and the concepts easy to contextualize. Do yourself a favor…

Warrick Long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School

Trust Me, It’s Important

Friday, October 19, 2018

Trust is an undervalued resource in organisations. Most organisations take it for granted, and don’t have an intentional program to develop and nurture it. However, the business advantages of fostering a culture of trust are immense. In a recent article in Governance Directions (read it here), authors Vinay Goswami and Erick Fibich note the following about how trust enhances what employees do:

  • They put their best foot forward
  • They work efficiently together
  • Work towards a common goal
  • Think outside the box
  • Support each other’s back
  • Communicate with transparency, openness and honesty

Conversely, when trust is absent, employees will jockey for positions, hold back information and play it safe. They also tend to become more withdraw and disengaged, with confidence among the team eroding, as does commitment to the organisation.

Essentially, as the authors note, trust builds the bridge between the business need for results, and the human need for connection.

Interestingly, the article makes the strong point that “rebuilding trust takes far more effort, time and resources than it does to initially build and maintain it in the first place.” Which begs the question, why don’t organisations invest more into building a culture of trust?

The authors propose four area in which to build and maintain trust, and the short time it takes to read further about these is time well spent, but in short point form, these are:

  1. Understand the need to build trust with the team
  2. Understand the theories of trust and apply what is right for the environment
  3. Use a framework to structure you approaches to maintain trust
  4. Deploy feedback mechanisms to repair/sustain trust

Taken for granted, trust in your organisation can soon disappear, leaving a disgruntled, disengaged and uncommitted workforce. However, investing time and resources in building and maintaining trust can see your organisation succeed. And the Avondale Business School is here to help you with your success. Simply contact Warrick Long at to find out how.

ABS Students on the Road

Thursday, October 18, 2018

It was an early start, we all arrived at 6.30am outside the Avondale Business School ready to board the bus for the excursion. Our first destination was the Qantas Jet Security Base at Mascot Airport in Sydney.

We arrived at the Jet Security Base by 9am just in time for our booked tour. We were greeted by Anton who took us around the Qantas security base. He explained his work career journey as to how he got to the position that he was doing now which is to train cabin crew on safety procedures of each different size Qantas plane. He initially started with Qantas as a cabin crew member and did that for a few years, and he mentioned that Qantas is great with offering and promoting positions internally to Qantas staff as long as you have the skills to do the job, you have a good chance of being successful in changing roles within the company.

Anton showed us around the facility, the training rooms, the room where all the safety equipment that you have on a plane such as fire extinguishers and life jackets and the cabin crew are trained on all the equipment and they have to learn and know every detail of each piece of equipment such as the angle that the each extinguisher has to be held for it to work and what type of liquid or fire the extinguisher can be used for and for how long the extinguisher will spray out its safety foam. Anton shared that the cabin crew are trained safety specialists and that this is a very important part of their job. The cabin crew and pilots are tested 4 times a year on all their safety knowledge and this also applies to the simulator machines. The flight crew and pilots are given a scenario and then have to go through and explain and act out the situation as if it was really happening. Anton took us on one of the training planes and had us experience the following scenario, “the plane is having a problem landing and will crash into the water, so brace yourselves”, he yelled out to get into the brace position and get out our life jackets and put them on. (Fake) Smoke filled the cabin and the lights were turned off, the scenario felt very real with the smoke and Anton yelling out instructions, he yelled out for us to get to the exit door and get out of the plane. It was very eye opening experience and I know that I will be much more alert and aware next time I go on a plane again.

Our next excursion for the day was to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) in Sydney. We were shown into a board room and were privileged to listen to presentations of what training and knowledge you can gain from being a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

They explained that their members range from people that are recently in a new job position that will require them to be on a company board, to people that have been on a board for more than 10 years, so they all have different training requirements. AICD offers complimentary lounges where you can work and conduct meetings in all states of Australia. You can come into one of the offices and arrange an appointment to discuss your training needs and they will assign someone from AICD to keep in contact with you to see how you are going and if you require any assistance. They offer training in many different forms, such as in person training workshops and seminars, software tools that you can use to help you in your position as a board member. E-learning courses, and three to five days intensive courses which range from beginners to advanced for people that want to gain more experience in being a board member, company secretary or company director. We were one of the first student university groups that had the opportunity to tour the office and be given this presentation and the presenter mentioned that they had not received a tour request from students at a higher education institution. They also do not have a student membership fee option, which the students did enquire about. AICD said that a student membership fee and offering a tour to students from colleges and universities is something that they will look into and consider. The tour and presentation has given our students something to think about and hopefully helped to assist them in their career goals and further training options once they graduate from Avondale College.

Organisational Change? – Don’t Forget The Employees

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

While many people thrive on change, there are also plenty of people (most?) who don’t relish the idea of another organisational restructure or “adjustment”. Change fatigue is a very real issue in workplaces. But some change is very necessary for the ongoing success of the business and so the issue becomes how to implement change is the most effective and successful way.

There are a number of resources available on change management (I personally like John Kotter’s approach in his book Leading Change). However, I recently came across a really succinct article on how to ensure employees are engaged and on board with organisational change. If comes from Morgan Galbraith and can be found by clicking here. Galbraith notes that almost one0thrid of employees don’t understand why changes are occurring in their workplace, which is a leading factor why command change transformations fail.

To help with the employee understanding, Galbraith notes four key factors leaders can take on board:

  1. Inspire people by presenting a compelling vision for the future.

Ensure you give a clear view of the path ahead, answering the questions of why the change is important, and how it will positively affect the organisation in the long-term.

  1. Keep employees informed by providing regular communication.

A hallmark of successful transformations is continual communication which is clear and consistent, and answers the question ‘what’s in it for me’ for employees. It is also important to communicate even when you don’t have all the answers.

  1. Empower leaders and managers to lead through change.

Successful transformations also happen because senior leaders model the behaviour changes. But for them to do so, you need to help them understand the fundamentals of change, including how to be an effective leader during that time.

  1. Find creative ways to involve employees in the change.

This is scary, but you need to solicit feedback and engage people in the process, which helps build ownership and makes them more likely to support the change.

The whole article is well worth reading (it only takes 6 minutes), and as noted by Galbraith, companies who are highly effective at change management are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform industry peers. So remember to inspire, inform, empower and engage. Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with your change management processes, to find out how, contact Warrick Long via