Charismatic leaders seem to be naturals. What we need is a way of producing them. By James Dunn
In the movie Back to School, starring US comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the main character finds himself in a business lecture at a university. The scene is a comic version of the challenges that face Australia’s leaders, challenges that will not be solved by attending business courses on leadership.
Dangerfield is a self-made millionaire men’s wear retailer in his fifties who has gone to university to try to coax his troubled son through the academic year. He is fidgeting through a business lecture that exemplifies the classic Ivy League “bus school” approach.
The stuffy lecturer is describing the costs of a theoretical business start-up: wages, factory, power, and so on. Dangerfield rolls his eyes and groans to the point where he can take no more, and interrupts with, “No, you left out heaps of stuff!” At which point the lecturer sneeringly demands to know what he has left out.
You have been employed as a consultant to assist the management of House Canteens create a more productive and co-operative climate in one of their canteens. House Canteens has had the contract for provision of food services to a large hospital for one contract period. It is keen to improve productivity and ensure that the contract is renewed.
The operation consists of more than 50 people, including seven managers and 40 canteen staff. Numerous complaints have been made about the standard of food provided by House Canteens, and absenteeism among canteen staff has increased.
Management and union delegates are chronically suspicious of each other: a suspicion growing from a long history of industrial difficulties, and from the style of senior management and union delegates, who each regard “the other side” as obstructive. House Canteens has also inherited an enterprise agreement that is not to the liking of management or staff, and is a further obstacle in the company’s efforts to improve services in the cantee
Professional lobbyists are an accepted part of political life. But are they perverters of democracy or purveyors of community sentiment? By Adele Ferguson
Napoleon, the bolshevist pig in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, revised one of his seven commandments from “All animals are equal” to “Some animals are more equal than others”. He might have had lobbyists in mind.
It is said that when it comes to democracy, lobbyists promise they can get you as much “equal” representation as you can afford. But the tales bandied around about lobbyists do not really reflect the reality. Although left-leaning commentators might complain of lobbyists as perverters of democracy, no modern political system functions without them.
Lobbying is as much a part of business and politics as accounting, marketing or any other professional discipline. It is, after all, one of the oldest professions in the world. From a peasant delegation asking for an increased allocation of grain to a sophisticated multinatio
The Newcastle biscuit factory had long since been abandoned. A large multinational corporation (MNC) had taken ownership of it and was converting it into a refrigerated warehouse. Its location in an industrial area, close to shipping and rail services and the main highway, was ideal.
A local company was sought to convert the factory to a warehouse. The Hard Comack Company had won the contract and the conversion of the plant was nearing completion. Some employees had been laid off from the site and others moved on to other projects. As the completion date neared, MNC realised the interior of the warehouse needed painting.
To clean and paint the warehouse would take no more than three weeks, and Hard Comack would not hire more full-time staff for such a short job. MNC decided to subcontract temporary workers to do it, and 20 university students were hired. They did not become members of the construction union.
The students were under the direction of Peter Kinley, who had worked for Hard Comack since he left school more t
Stephen Blanch, 55, has been managing director of Eastern Energy since it split from the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria almost four years ago. Before joining Eastern Energy, he spent two years as the director of business development for Mission Energy Australia and four years as the managing director of a construction company in New Zealand, following a 30-year career with the SECV. In 1963 he obtained a diploma of electrical engineering, followed by a bachelor of electrical engineering, then a master of engineering science in 1973.
AIM: Did you decide to become a manager or did it just happen?
Blanch: I was a technical expert for the first four or five years, then I was given a small team to lead and it went from there. I never set myself the target of becoming the managing director of anything, I just did the best I possibly could.
AIM: Did you consider other career possibilities?
Blanch: I considered teaching, which I used to do part-time. I was offered the job senior lecturer in engineering t
Betty Byrne Henderson had relatively little experience in the automotive industry when she took over as governing director of the Byrne Group car dealership after the death of her husband in 1977. The group is now one of Queensland’s largest businesses and in 1995 it received the prestigious President’s Award from Ford Australia. Byrne Henderson recently sold the business to her son and holds seven directorships, including the Queensland Harness Racing Board and the Corrective Services Commission. She says there will be casualties as these organisations are transformed to run along private-sector lines.
AIM: Can management be taught or does it need to be learned on the job?
Byrne Henderson: You need the theoretical and the practical side to do it properly. A lot of it does come instinctively. There is a big difference between being managing director and just being into management – as governing director the importance was to have good management lines underneath me. The managing directors are there to put the
As management gurus spread the word on their new Tower of Babel, they may find that no one is listening. By David James
A truism of history is that civilisations are most at peril at their apogee; that success contains within it the seed of failure. Something similar may be true of management. At the point at which it has become the coinage of global corporate power and a key to wealth and influence, it may be starting to decline in importance.
The word “management” (from the Latin manere) initially referred to holding the reins of a horse. Only since the Industrial Revolution has it commonly been used to mean guiding an organisation. Lex Donaldson, professor of management at the Australian Graduate School of Management, says the modern management role first appeared in the late 19th century in the United States railway system.
In a little more than a century, the role of management has been adopted in organisations across the world, to the point where it is considered an essential part of work. Management t
In 1990, Samuel McNeil was appointed Marketing Manager at ATC, a large Australian-owned organisation with an office in Wellington. The company was engaged in a wide range of diversified activities and had more than 600 employees throughout New Zealand. McNeil felt confident that he would be able to greatly improve the company’s marketing. He was also hoping to change the company’s orientation away from products and towards customer service.
McNeil’s first assignment was the development of a local and overseas marketing program. His two assistants, David McQueen and Steve Harrison, who were experienced in production and sales but had little experience in marketing. McNeil experienced some resentment from managers in other departments and their staffs. However, he believed that his background and position had nothing to do with it and that any newcomer to the company would be similarly resented.
McNeil soon realised that there was no organised training for the marketing department. Although most staff had quali
Jim Gill, 51, has been managing director of the Water Corporation of Western Australia since 1995. Before joining the Water Corporation, he spent seven years as chief executive officer of Westrail, and prior to that he held senior engineering and management positions in the highway field. In 1968 he graduated with a first-class honors degree in engineering from the University of Western Australia. He gained his PhD from Cambridge in advanced computer-aided design and in 1983 completed a Master in Public Administration at Harvard.
AIM: You have a distinguished background in engineering. Do you regard yourself as an engineer or a manager?
Gill: A manager. But in my position it is extremely useful to have worked as an engineer because you get a certain instinct about things. My career as a manager did not just happen. It was a decision I made when I was 22. I did a PhD in Britain and when I started I decided I wanted to go into administration. I followed this with a Master in Public Administration at Harvard. Had I stayed in the
Businesses are fishing with a new line and are finding that at every level there are advantages to being caught in the nineties net. By Lucinda Schmidt
That 1980s buzzword, networking, is back. This time around, however, it means more than an occasional breakfast or lunch. The business world is increasingly made up of networks, ranging from e-mail links to the internal trade between divisions of multinational companies. Managers who ignore the networking of the 1990s risk being left behind by the revolution.
According to the McKinsey Quarterly, the world economy is in the early stages of a profound change, comparable to the effect of the Industrial Revolution on methods of production and distribution. That change is the rise of networking, which McKinsey calls “interactions” (other names include “supply-chain management” and “business linkages”). It says: “As in all major economic shifts, the successful innovators will be those who develop the best understanding of the underlying chang