Posts Tagged ‘Success’

Barking Up The Wrong Tree – Book Review

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“Much of what we’ve been told about the qualities that lead to achievement is logical, earnest – and downright wrong.” So claims Eric Barker in his recently released book (2017) ‘Barking Up The Wrong Tree’, published by HarperOne.

Essentially Barker is dealing with the premise that ‘What we have been led to believe about being successful is mostly wrong.’ He has been researching the various issues associated with success for a number of years, writing about it on his blog. This book is a culmination of that research.

HE goes to enormous lengths to find research, and even to sources themselves to delve into the issues of success. For me, this means it is very convincing, and what I particularly like is that he explores multiple sides of the issues, allowing the evidence to speak for itself.

An example of the issues considered:

  • Do nice guys always finish last?
  • What navy SEALs, video games, arranged marriages and Batman can teach us about sticking it out when success is hard
  • The real truth about work-life balance.

Really well organised book, and very well written, with equal doses of research, humour and surprise.

This book will appeal to pretty much anyone, and especially those who are thinking about whether they are being successful or not, and what success really looks like (hint – it’s not about money!). Taken from page 3, “This book explores what rings success in the real world. And I mean life success, not merely money making. What attitudes and behaviours will help you achieve your goals in whatever arena you choose, career or personal?”

Very worthwhile, and one of the best books I have read for awhile –highly recommended.

Warrick Long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School.

ABS Continues to Develop Avondale College Leaders

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Participants enjoyed a lively time together on a recent Friday morning at the second program in the Avondale College LEAD program, aimed at developing new and existing leaders at the College. Program coordinator, Warrick long, from the Avondale Business School, emphasized the need for leaders to learn firstly how to lead self, noting that the hardest person we will ever lead is yourself. The program covered the topics of values, personality and emotions (including emotional intelligence). These all led to the final section on their implications for leadership, including their impact on how we make decisions. Participants enjoyed the interactive and reflective nature of the programs, and the recommended readings, suggested book lists and additional videos. For those that undertake a voluntary quiz based on the program and additional resources formal acknowledgement of their participation in the program will be provided.

If you would like the Avondale business School to help develop your leaders, simply email or call Warrick Long at, or 02 4980 2168.

ABS Impacting our Community

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It was a great day for Central Coast Business “Lasercraft”, when they celebrated 30 years in the manufacturing sector on August 28, assisted by ABS student Jessie. Lasercraft Australia Limited is an ‘Australian Disability Enterprise’ providing long term supported employment for people with moderate intellectual and physical disabilities.

Lasercraft employee Matt, working in the trophy manufacturing shed.

ABS marketing student Jessie with ABS HoD Associate Professor Lisa Barnes

Our Marketing major student Jessie, has been undertaking her internship at Lasercraft since June, working one day per week in the marketing department. Jess has had the opportunity to review the company’s website and make changes to the way the company communicates to its clients particularly in the area of social media.

Jess was instrumental in organising the 30 year celebration, which involved over 80 participants. The community celebration included speeches from the Board of Directors, the CEO, and Tim a staff member who has been working at Lasercraft for over 20 years, and is the employee representative on the Board. Whilst there, Associate Professor Lisa Barnes met Liesl Tesch, member for Gosford. Liesl was very interested to know about the internship program, and Avondale College’s continuing community engagement with their work integrated learning initiatives. Happy birthday Lasercraft from everyone at ABS.

Associate Professor Lisa Barnes with member for Gosford Liesl Tesch,

ABS Graduate Feeding the Hungry

Thursday, August 9, 2018

2018 Avondale ABS graduate, Daniel Lavaiamat, was recently chosen by the Greater Sydney Conference of the SDA Church to undertake a research project about programs for providing meals to the homeless and struggling in Sydney (Food Pantries). Daniel visited most of the existing programs and was able to develop a recommendation for a ‘best practice’ guide for churches and groups that are keen to run such programs. Well done to Daniel for putting his skills to great use and helping to make a difference in the community.

It’s All Just A Matter Of Trust

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

If public trust is the not-for-profit (NFP) sectors most valuable asset, then why are directors and leaders of NFPs not doing more to safeguard it? The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s 2017 Australian Charities Report (find it here) reports that trust in charities amoungst Australians has declined from 37% in 2013 to just 24% in 2017. Such a decline in the value of any other form of asset would have seen the directors of organisations demanding answers and taking urgent action to correct it.

A recent article by Lucas Ryan for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) entitled ‘Trust in not-for-profits’ (read it here) looks at this issue of trust and raises a number of very important points for leaders of charities and within the NFP sector to consider. Some of the highlights in this article include:

  • The AICD indicates there is little evidence of NFP directors addressing trust
  • While directors recognise the primacy of culture as the most significant issue relevant to trust, very few directors receive reports on culture, and most don’t have it as an item on their agenda.
  • The ACNC Report identifies belief in an organisations mission and transparency about the use of resources as key influencers of individual trust.
  • 45% of people in the ACNC study did not trust charities that paid salespeople to raise funds on their behalf.
  • Fewer Australians are trusting charities to apply their donations to a charitable purpose and to be ethical and honest in their fundraising.

These are really worrying trends for NFPs and charities, and the AICD identify the top 3 factors most critical to building trust:

  • Communicating and engaging openly with stakeholders;
  • Transparency of business practices and decision-making; and
  • Understanding the issues that matter to stakeholders.

This means directors and leaders of NFPs really do need to ensure they are actively engaging in discussion trust, and ensuring there are strong governance practices in place to guard this valuable organisational asset.

What are you doing to guard and enhance the public trust in your organisation? The Avondale Business School team can assist you in ensuring your governance program is maximizing the success of your organisation. You can contact us at

The Importance of Urgency

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How do you become and maintain leadership in your industry when your industry is changing so constantly? McKinsey&Company report that the average large firm reorganizes every two to three years, and the average reorganization takes more than 18 months to implement! How can an organisation focus on strategy when reorganization seems to dominate?

In their article entitled ‘Organising for the age of Urgency’ (click here to read), Aaron De Smet and Chris Gagnon of McKinsey&Company report that companies still need to change, but argue there is another way than to enter the endless cycle of reorganisations. They identify that companies that are successful adopt more radical approaches, and become more responsive, more flexible, and shift decision-making to the front-line, (or “edge”). Based on their observations, they have developed an organisational outline of what the most successful organisations have adopted, and shown in the following diagram:

The key areas identified is that urgency must become the single biggest imperative for the company. The default for organisations is to fall behind competitors, and to succeed, companies must move qui8ckly. Jeff Bezos of Amazon asserts that companies need to adopt high-velocity thinking, using 70% of the information they wish they had to make decisions. It is also important to use emergent strategy and leadership, which the authors compare to improvisational jazz, where all the players improvise and are empowered to adapt. Successful companies also try new things, accept failure, learn from that, and try again.

Agility is the second component of the model, which means being willing and able to shift quickly to reshape the business. This includes creating a flatter organisation and moving away from title/rank having total control. Decisions are instead made in real-time by those that are in the moment at the front-line.

Capability is the third element, and includes creating a workforce who are able to adapt and integrate with new technology. It also embraces and continual learning, which includes learning being personalized for employees so they can act more urgently and improve effectiveness. The leadership model is also transformed by being less about control and more about influence, decreasing the need for many positions of formal authority.

The last of the model components is identity. Successful organisations need to have stable processes, tasks and roles. This includes having a simple but consistent series of process across the entire organisation. It is also important to have a purpose that inspires employees, one which leaders model. Employees thrive where they are part of an organisation that creates real value.

Creating an organisation that embraces urgency, coupled with agility, capability and identity does away with the need for constant reorganization and reactive strategies. Instead, as noted I the article, “you’ve got an organisation that can play fast and long”. A highly recommended read for people who really want their organisation to succeed.

What Does CEO Stand For?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

“Effective CEO’s should make as few decisions as possible!”

This statements, taken from their book ‘CEO School: Insights from 20 Global Business Leaders’, authors Stanislav Shekshnia, Kirill Krachenko and Elin Williams come to the conclusion that  CEOs should be Chief Enablement Officers. In a summary article in INSEAD Knowledge (click here to read), the authors share their finding that in today’s organisation the main role of the CEO is to enable other employees to perform, rather than being the ‘Commander-in-Chief’..

That is, employees today are typically highly skilled professionals who most often are “better than anybody else- including the CEO – at what they do”. Consequently such employees don’t need to be directed, they need to be enabled to fulfill their role.

The authors identify seven key practices that CEOs who enable their teams display. In a much abbreviated summary, these are:

  • Reducing uncertainty
  • Encourage collaboration and remove organisational barriers
  • Create productive autonomy for employees
  • Support but challenge employees
  • Make learning available to every employee
  • Stay in touch with the business and outside world
  • Role model enabling leadership

Leaders who focus on an enabling culture are able to focus more on the essential elements of their role and that of the company. They create productive environments where employees are supported, much like a professional athlete who is being coached to maximum success.

This article is highly recommended to leaders who want to maximize the success of the employees and their organisations. Avondale Business School is able to help you in your leadership through our Executive Development and leadership programs.

Workforce of the Future

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

‘Competition for the right talent is fierce. And ‘talent’ no longer means the same as ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today”.

Rather than being daunted by this finding by PWC in their report “Workforce of the Future”, PWC provide some excellent scenarios of what 2030 may look like, and what organisations should be planning in order to prepare. The reports is based on a survey of 10,000 business leaders globally. (click on the image to access the full report).

PWC identified five megatrends, or forces, that are shaping the future. These megatrends are:

  • Technological breakthroughs;
  • Demographic shifts, that is, the changing size, distribution and age profile of the world’s population;
  • Rapid urbanization, which involves the significant increase in the world’s population moving to live in cities;
  • Shifts in global economic power, between developed and developing countries;
  • Resource scarcity and climate change.

Rather than extrapolate these into one potential future, PWC consider four scenarios (or ‘worlds’) based on varying degrees of fluidity between collectivism and individualism, and business fragmentation and corporate integration. These scenarios recognise that there are multiple potential outcomes possible, and that organisations need to ensure they are thinking about a range of futures, rather than betting everything on just one possible alternative. The outcomes of this extrapolation into 2030 are:

  • The Yellow World, where humans come first
  • The Red World, where innovation rules
  • The Green World, where companies care
  • The Blue World, where corporate is king

The one common thread throughout each scenario is the rise of automation and the implications of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), which will result in a massive reclassification and rebalancing of work.

While providing helpful recommendations for individuals and society as a whole, the report also suggests a few things organisations can also do to position themselves for whatever future unfolds:

  • Recognise that linear predictions don’t cut it – there are multiple and emerging visions of the future;
  • Make decisions based on purpose and values;
  • Embrace technology as a force for good;
  • Focus on humans and the humane.

This is an excellent and informative report that is easy to read, yet challenging. Leaders looking into the future would do well to consider this report and how their organisation is preparing for an uncertain, but different, future. And Avondale Business School is excited to be able to partner with you to achieve success.

Business Kindness

Monday, July 4, 2016

Business KindnessAs an accountant I was trained that the only things that matter are those that can be measured. And now, much to my surprise, kindness is one of these things! Recent research into Australian organisations has resulted in the Workplaceinfo Business Kindness Index. You can read more about it here.

I was unaware that there is a growing movement of business kindness within Australia and globally. Some people might even ask why is it important? The report cites research from University of NSW that provides an answer: “Leadership compassion – ‘the ability of leaders to spend more time and effort developing and recognising their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism, and fostering cooperation among staff’ – is the single greatest influencer of productivity and profitability”. Being kind makes money!

Some of the key takeaway points of the report include:

  • Providing time to listen and interact with others makes a difference
  • Voice concern and support
  • Understand that process systems revolve around people, not people around processes and their parts
  • There is no change without leadership.

So creating a culture of kindness makes good business sense. Can you afford not to be kind? The Avondale Business School can help you with your organisational culture. To find out more, contact Warrick Long at:


P: 02 4980 2168

Stretch Goals are Detrimental

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Stretch GoalsMany organisations use stretch goals, those “seemingly impossible” goals to motivate employees to reach beyond what they thought was possible. However, a recent study by Lemone, Blum and Roman published in February 2016 casts some doubt over the effectiveness of stretch goals. You can find the full article here.

Lemone et al studied the effectiveness of stretch goals in the running of organisations that deal with substance use disorders. Coming out of their research was the finding that in organisations with poor capacity, stretch goals made no impact, and in organisations that were strong stretch goals were found to be harmful and demotivating.

Overall they concluded that stretch goals are harmful for most organisations and that a better approach is to negotiate challenging but seemingly not impossible goals with the staff, which allowed for smaller but more frequent wins to be achieved. Essentially it means staff can have an increased expectation of achievement, which is much more motivating and means it is more likely to occur than stretch goals.

Is it time you re-evaluated the goals of your organisation to see whether they are motivating or de-motivating your employees? 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