Friday, 20 October 2017

Holden Joins Other Manufacturig Closures

It is all over.

It has been a long time coming but today has probably been inevitable since the 1960’s.

Today, Friday 20 October 2017 is the date mass manufacturing ceased in Australia.

General Motors – Holden followed Toyota and Ford today when they ceased local production and the last locally manufactured Automobile rolled off their South Australian assembly line.

Many readers may not remember or even know that Australia was a manufacturer of white goods. Washing Machines, Dryers, Refrigerators rolled off production lines in numbers that met the demands of a population buoyed by post war prosperity. Our homes and businesses were full of appliances manufactured locally, kettles, toasters and even lawn mowers.

We also manufactured radios and record players and other electronics.

And of course, we made cars.

Our manufacturing industries were highly protected by import tariffs. This protection resulted in our industries failing to keep up with world quality and process practices. This left us highly vulnerable to quality goods that were able to be produced offshore at a cost that still made them price competitive even after tariffs were paid. The Japanese did it better.

It was the same with our automotive industry when Japanese brands became acceptable.

Competition drives innovation and continuous improvement. We had neither.

The Hawke/Keating Governments recognised the damage tariffs were doing and set out to progressively remove them. This came in conjunction with the plans devised by then Industry Minister, John Button to support the Industry with the 3 Car Brand Policy. It was a sound, sensible and well implemented policy framework.

The result was, we started to produce quality, world class motor vehicles but eventually, other factors became evident. Korean vehicles, a GFC, high dollar value to name a few.

Ultimately, it was determined the extent of Government subsidisation needed to maintain a local Auto presence was too high. The merits of this decision will be debated for many years to come.

The cold hard fact is, we largely stopped buying our locally made vehicles.

As a community, we used to be split down the middle. You were a Ford or a Holden family.

Mine was a Holden family. I have personally owned or had custody of 9 Holdens.  

My passion for the brand did not diminish, I just stopped buying them in favour of European vehicles.

I was sad to see the last Commodore to be built locally come off the production line today. It marks the end of an era.

Equally, it signals the start of another era and a chance for our innovators to create.

Thank you, Holden, for many of the memories of my youth.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Bipartisanism – more like Bicrapitisan

We offer the Government a Bipartisan approach to this issue.

The Government is seeking a Bipartisan approach to resolve this challenge.

Absolute rubbish.

We are hearing calls for, demands even for a Bipartisan approach. However, it seems the definition of those offering and those asking for bipartisanism is for the other side to agree 100% with what the other is wanting to do.

The offer of bipartisanism is the first thing offered.   

Surely bipartisanism is the result of a process and not the first thing offered?

Surely, two opposing parties discuss their ideal approach, make compromises and hopefully achieve a more balanced alternative they can both support. It is the outcome of meaningful, mature and respectful negotiation.

And how boring is the other rhetoric?

Bill says Malcolm is beholden to the Radical Right and Malcolm says Bill is subservient to the Left-Wing Unions. Have you any idea how childish this sounds and how incredibly unengaged we become as a result.

To politicians everywhere, take a look at yourselves because we have lost faith in you and your intentions.

We do not believe you are governing, or for that matter opposing with the intention of a good outcome in mind. We believe selfish interests are your motivation and we, the people you serve are paying the price.

Single issue and no issue political parties with flexible idealism are becoming increasingly popular, not because they are attractive, but because the major parties are disgraceful.

Malcolm and Bill, you are both becoming equally unimpressive. 

How about a display of Bipartisanism to sort it out?

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Tuesday Conversation - AI, Future of Work and Recruiting (Hypothetical)

The sentence that commenced yesterday’s “Tuesday Conversation” was in the form of a very broad question that went something like this:

“All this talk about AI and the future of work as we know it, do you think it’s for real and how far away is it?”

I confirmed my belief it is real and commented first on the pace of change.

I suggested that based on my experience, the change would be very slow for a period of time, before all of a sudden moving to hyper speed. I provided several examples to back up my view including the slow adoption by business of e-mail, before it exploded to be an essential tool, almost overnight. The same with the move from mainframe to PC computing in the workplace.

The person I was conversing with is at a “career age” that may be challenging.

In their late 20’s and having worked for 5 years, they have not yet reached a level of seniority where they are no longer doing routine work, including the activities that will disappear in the new world.

The change to the concept of work as we know it today is considered to be most challenging for those older, but I can see a much younger cohort being severely affected. Sadly, the older you are, perhaps the cynical you are too. The under 30’s retain the optimism that comes with their generation.

My conversation partner was not overly distressed, more interested in thinking it through.

We moved on to what ancillary changes may look like.

We discussed many things including that of recruitment. Rather than matching people to jobs, it may be a more targeted approach of matching skills to tasks. I referenced the Michael Lewis book, Moneyball where each act within a baseball game was allocated a value. To be a successful team, it was necessary to have players with the combined skill set to equal the sum total of the values needed to win a game. Each player was then paid accordingly.

I suggested the recruiters challenge of the future may be to provide a person or people who possess the collective skills needed to “win the game” and to do so within the allocated budget.

As far as each person is concerned, their suitability for a specific role is assessed based on qualifications and past experienced performing that role, or a similar role. In future, the formal qualification may be a platform however their actual ability to perform individual tasks may be what is valued most.

For example, an individual may be an excellent writer, a very capable public presenter and a creative thinker who also has an accounting degree.

Possessing these skills, they will be paid for their ability to take the work produced by AI, interpret it, produce a report and present it to the Strategy Committee or Board together with a set of options for consideration.

And, they may perform this task as a freelancer for a number of corporates.

Speaking of the subject of the future of work, I recently read this excellent article by Petra Zink titled "Why the future of work won't feel like work".

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Special Birthday - Day

17 October each year is a special day.

It is special because two of my favourite people celebrate birthdays today. And being fellow Librans’ is not what makes their birthdays' special, although being so can only be a good thing.  

They share many similar qualities including being my former work colleagues, be it one for just a few months and many years before the other.

It is far too simple to say they are resilient and courageous, however both are certainly that.

They have each suffered personal loss over recent times and endured separate personal challenges.

Resilience is an overused word; used now as an almost throw away adjective.

The qualities shared by these two people are far more valuable, and all too rare. It is these qualities that make them the people they are. It is personal qualities that represent the basis of resilience.

To start with, they both have a commitment and respect for their parents, a true intense and deep respect. Sadly, one has lost theirs' over the last 15 months.

They also have an intense loyalty to friends and give more in support of their friends than they may ever hope to receive. They default to giving, and perhaps do so to a fault and at times, to their emotional detriment

They have both experienced significant relationship challenges over recent years, however this has in no way diminished their ability to love and support those they love. One lost their Partner within the last year.

They also share a sense of humour that is just a little bit off beat and have the ability and confidence to laugh at themselves.

Finally, they both light the room with their smile and whoever they are talking to at any given point of time is made to feel valued and special.

They have never met.

Happy Birthday Ladies  – you know who you are.

And, thank you for the privilege of knowing you.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Improve Everything - Add a New (Simple) Daily Ritual

It is day one of a new working week.

If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, your day is coming to an end whereas for others, it is in the process of starting.

Chances are, you are one of many who look at Monday with a degree of dread. Monday represents a return to the daily commute. It may be your battle with traffic, or just staying dry and warm in the hopelessly inadequate cover provided at the bus stop. Maybe you are a member of the “eyes down” flock heading for the train platform to be confronted by already fully carriages.

Of course, you may be one of those who are excited and hopeful for the working day that lies ahead and the prospect of a week of satisfaction and fulfilment.

You may even have conflicting emotions. There may be a degree of concern about a family matter, a child who is unwell while at the same time being excited about the performance review taking place today to be followed by a pay rise, stock bonus or both.

No matter what your state of mind, the start of the week represents an effortless glide back to the regularity of a daily routine, and the comfort that comes with it.

I encourage you to make an addition to you daily routine.

The action I encourage can be performed physically using your preferred list making method (paper, tablet, phone etc) or may be performed mentally, in your mind only.

There is a scientific basis for what I am encouraging you to do. The benefits are listed as including:

  • Expansion of relationships
  • Improved Physical health
  • Improved psychological health
  • Enhanced empathy
  • Reduced aggression
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Increased mental strength

A rather compelling and valuable list I am sure you would agree.

The benefits listed can be obtained by the simple habit of practicing “Gratitude”.

Make a list, physically, virtually or mentally of all the things you are grateful for.

We find it easy to list the things that annoy, peeve or upset us; we do this well, because we are well practiced at doing so. 

Adding the practice of gratitude to our daily routine provides balance and allows the positives in our world to be closer to our conscious minds.

Let me give some simple examples:

I know my daily commute will include being stuck in traffic. Equally, I know there is nothing I can do. I am grateful for the chance to listen again to the new CD I bought, or to listen to the next in the series of podcasts I was introduced to a few days ago.
I am frustrated at the repetitive nature of the work I do; however, I am grateful for the supportive people I work with and grateful for the lunch break where a few of us sit and shoot the breeze.

These are two really simple examples. It can be anything and everything.

I recall a conversation recently where a friend was complaining about how annoying his ageing Father was becoming. I suggested he be grateful, adding I would do much to be annoyed just one more time by my Father. It stopped him in his tracks and he eventually said he had never thought about it like that before.

Practice Gratefulness, daily to be even Greater, in every way. 

For more information, go to Psychology Today and/or Happier Human. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Wanting and Doing

I have always wanted to run a marathon.

I have been meaning to start a blog.

I have always wanted to learn photography

I wish I could speak insert language

I have often dreamed of going to insert wherever

You are so lucky to be doing……………

How often do you hear, or say something similar.

My weekend challenge to all, is to re-visit the things you have always said you wanted to do or have been meaning to do.

Make a list in whatever your preferred format for list making is. Phone, tablet, laptop or writing pad.

List the things you have said you always wanted to do, all of them.

Now you are ready for the hard stuff.

Cross out or delete those that are motivated by reasons not all of your own.

For example:

  • Was your desire to visit Everest Base Camp authentically your dream or was it said 15 years ago to impress the cute backpacker you met at a cafe?
  • When you said you want to go to the South Pole, was that because of genuine curiosity about a wild frontier or just so you can say you have been there?
  • And that book you said you want to write, do you have any idea what it will be about or is it more about the glory associated with being the next J. K. Rowling?
  • Why do you want the Ferrari? Do you know what you would do with it or is it more to do with an overt display of success?
Can you see what I am getting at?  You will now be getting down to your authentic list.

As Parents, we tell our children they can do whatever they want to. Chances are our Parents said the same to us.

What better example to set to the next generation than to go about doing what it is you really want to.

Some the things on your list will be easier to do than others. After all, you are busy, because busy is what we do.

You want to learn to surf?

Prior to your next visit to the beach, look up where the surfing lessons are and book in. Many popular beaches have locals running surf schools. Introduction lessons last about an hour. It is a start.

As for those foreign language lessons, you don’t need to sign up to expensive classes. I attended local community classes when seeking to get a basic grasp of French. This was 3 hours, one night a week for 10 weeks and cost me less than $100.00.

If you have a genuine desire to get properly physically fit, perhaps forgo that repeat of NCIS three nights a week and get up half an hour earlier and go for a walk. The hardest thing about achieving a fitness desire is starting, it is taking that first step. But be warned, exercise and the associated benefits can be addictive.

Naturally, there are “want to do’s” that will be in the future.

I know several people with a desire to walk a good part of the Comino Trail. The fact they have school aged children means this is something for quite some years in the future. However, they are using the intervening years to learn as much as they can about the Comino, accommodation and food options along the way and places of interest where they will spend more time.

A friend has had a long held desire to run a Marathon. In 2015 she decided she would run the New York Marathon. Coming from a zero running base, she has started taking the small steps towards her goal and has completed a 10 kilometre run and then a half marathon as part of a slow and sensible build up to her goal. Chances are she will enter New York in 2019 after her son has completed year 12.

Another friend has an obsession to attend the US Golf Masters, but is doing nothing about it other than talk

Weekends present an opportunity to separate ourselves from the pressures of the working week, even just for a moment. It is an opportunity to look inwardly and examine and test what it is we really want, and want to do.

And then to put in place the steps in order to do it.

May your weekend be precisely what you want it to be.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Value of Work – It is a Personal Thing

I received a call today from a former colleague. We had not spoken for some months and the call was prompted by the article I posted yesterday talking about Idealism and Career Choices

We spoke for some time and on conclusion, my thoughts turned to the different ways we value ourselves and our work, and what we are prepared to endure, overlook or enjoy in return for remuneration.

From time to time we may feel increased levels of workplace frustration. We might blame this on process or workplace changes, staff movements or just the sheer tedium our role may have evolved too. It may also be due to loss of belief in what we are doing or in the broader corporate culture. It may be a Leader trust matter.

Imagine you are experiencing one of more of these emotions when you receive advice of an immediate 15% pay rise. How does this change how you feel about your job and employer?

In many cases, your mood, attitude and general feeling about your role will revert to the positive and enthusiastic.

Let’s now reverse it.

You have enjoyed a sustained period of high engagement with your role. You are enthusiastic for each day, derive much satisfaction from what you do and are part of a high performing ethically aligned team.

Your Leader enjoys your trust and you theirs’s. There is scope for development and you have a clear pathway. To top it all off, the overall Culture is one you can easily buy in to and contribute too.

You are called in to a meeting where it is announced their will be a 15% pay cut? How do you feel now?

These two scenarios can be simplified in to two questions:

  1. Would you happily accept a significant pay rise to do something you don’t like with an employer you don’t believe in working with a Leader you may not trust?
  2. Would you work for an organisation you believe with Trusted Leaders, in a role that fulfilled, enthused, motivated and satisfied you for less money?
There is no correct answer, there is only our answer, there is only your answer.

If you ask yourself this question, answer it honestly and retain the answer as a consistent reference point, you will have made progress towards understanding why you do what you do, where you do it and with the people you do it with. You will also have removed the seemingly ever-present issue of remuneration, from your work/life/happiness equation.

Ask yourself the question, write down the answer and keep it as a handy self centreing tool.

I dare you.