Monday, March 15, 2010

Australian Business - Opportunities for improvement

The Australian Financial Review publishes a business magazine on the weekends called "BOSS".  It ranges from good to mediocre - the latter when the editor has had a bad month and fills it full of reprints from the Harvard Business Review or the Guardian.

The edition on the 10th March 2010 was very good.  I was particularly struck by a review on page 23 of the strengths and weaknesses of Australian business - which drew on some research funded by the Australian government and published in a report called "Management Matters in Australia" released by the Australian Government in late 2009:

Where Australian Management is strong:

  • International Outlook
  • Team Leadership
  • Risk aversion
  • Strong operational management skills
Where Australian Management is not strong:
  • People practices - attracting, developing and retaining employees
  • Measuring and improving management practices
  • Over rating management performance
  • Centralised thinking and reluctance to foster autonomy of operations
  • Investment in management training and education
  • Fostering innovation.
I think this is absolutely correct.  Australia is very lucky at the moment that we have lots of things that North Asia (in particular) needs - especially natural gas and mineral commodities.  So we are enjoying a fantastic standard of living selling our wares and buying some time.  We are in danger of becoming complacent about the need to build strategic sustainable advantage - and in particular the need to invest in our people skills and the quality of the people in our business enterprises.

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