Iain Summers is the Auditor General for the Northern Territory. He was formerly with accountancy firms Coopers and Lybrand, and Pannell Kerr Forster, and a general manager with the Northern Territory Tourist Commission. He is 45, married with three children, and a Fellow of AIM.
AIM: Can you describe your background?
Summers: I was trained in accounting in the early 1970s, before it was fashionable. I then worked in Mt Isa and Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea I was training some of the first graduates in accounting. From there I went to Darwin, where accounting was in short supply. A lot of people in accounting or management think going to regional Australia is a backward step, but once they get there they find there is more demand for their skills.
AIM: How did you become the auditor general?
Summers: I was involved with the board of the Chamber of Commerce. It was an excellent experience in terms of understanding the place of management and having a chance to work with a governing board to provide policy direction. I then became a general manager in the Northern Territory Tourist Commission. Then I was o
The balance of power has shifted to favor the customer and businesses must re-engineer themselves to prove adequate to the shift or die. By Vic Zbar
Until now, most businesses have been constructed on the basis of specialisation: the division of work into a series of discrete tasks. Today, however, the focus has shifted to the business processes that reunite those disaggregated tasks. “Business Re-engineering” describes the range of techniques that enable companies to bring about this shift.
Re-engineering is underpinned not only by an analysis of how things might be done better, but also by a fundamental questioning of to what purpose the business does what it does in the first place. The answer to this question provides the basis for thinking about processes and whether they serve the organisation’s core purpose.
All companies will raise their hands in favor of such concepts as flexibility, leanness, customer service and quality products. They often operate, however, from a different perspective. In particular many large corporations in the West are characterised
That management opportunities for women are yet in short supply may be traceable to their not enjoying access to the traditional male avenues of networking. Mentoring may supply the answer. By Gina McColl
Studies have shown that women’s career advancement can be impeded by their lack of access to the informal world of work the after-work drinks, the weekend games of golf, and so on, which have been the traditional arenas of male networking and support.
Was Ancient Greece’s Odysseus the first modern manager? In Homer’s Odyssey, as Odysseus is leaving for the siege of Troy in 1194 BC, he installs Mentor as the manager of his household. For the next ten years, Mentor acts as teacher, adviser and friend to Odysseus son Telemachus. Now, there’s a great leader, with his line of succession and a trustworthy second-in-command all worked out.
Modern management theory has identified mentoring as a key leadership role. “The best leaders are the ones who spend a lot of time and are very involved in the mentoring of people,” says Professor Leon Mann, the Pratt Family professor of leadership and decision-making at the Melbourne Business
Australpharm distributes pharmaceutical products to medical practices throughout Australia by means of a sales force that visits doctors in their practices on a regular basis. In the past two years the company has successfully introduced electronic-commerce practices into its purchasing arrangements with suppliers. Pharmaceutical products are ordered over the Internet, using an on-line system that handles all orders, confirmations, and delivery and invoicing information.
In reviewing the company’s latest six-monthly financial results, Martin Drugrich, the managing director, was pleased to see a near 10% lift in gross profit. Digging deeper into the figures and his finance director’s analysis, he saw that two big contributors to the increased profit were a higher turnover of products and lower administration costs in the purchasing group. Further examination of the figures showed him that profit could have been even higher but for high sales distribution costs.
In a meeting with his purchasing manager, Drugrich learned that products had been ordered and delivered much faster through the new e-commerce system, and
Russell Cooper is managing director of South East Water. He was general manager of Email Electronics and trade commissioner (technology) for Austrade. He has a bachelor of science degree from Melbourne University and a graduate diploma in management from RMIT. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
AIM: How did you begin your career?
Cooper: I started as a chemist in the oil industry. Then I moved to Philips in sales of scientific instruments. I went to Austrade as a trade commissioner in technology. But most of my background has been in the private sector.
AIM: What management training have you had?
Cooper: I did a post-graduate diploma in management at RMIT. I suppose you would now call it an MBA: a bit of law, economics, organisation theory, strategy and computers.
AIM: What is enduring in management?
Cooper: Total quality management and continuous improvement. I also admire the Japanese management philosophy kanban. It is about demand pulling products through, as opposed to having the sales force saying “We can sell 10,000 widgets” and then selling either 20,000
Simulation may simply be the answer to a public-sector difficulty. By David Clark-Murphy
Public sector managers are generally selected for positions on the basis of their knowledge and skills related to a job description. Unfortunately, job descriptions rarely include consideration of the levels of complexity of working environments. In a single department, similarly graded positions with similar job descriptions may be used in selecting managers for work in quite different environments. These environments may differ in their levels of complexity related to organisational structure, rate of change, internal “politicality”, and the range and depth of dealings with the outside world. As a result, individuals may be assigned to work environments to which they are poorly suited.
Because workplaces vary in complexity, an indication of a manager’s capacity to perform in complex working environments may be useful.
Thus, for managers to be effective they must be compatible with the environmental complexity as well as the technical demands of the position.
Part of a solution to the difficulties of sele
The spin doctor has entered corporate life to administer the business analogue of the placebo. By Adele Ferguson
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty tells Alice: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” These two literary characters from the well-loved and delightful children’s tale might well have been talking about modern corporate and political spin.
Spin is ubiquitous. It is in advertising, internal newsletters, political speeches, presentations, religion and sport. Spin is artifice at its best. Why? Because spin is so subtle that most people do not realise they are being delivered a googly.
In the corporate world, spin comes in very handy because it is a great motivator of staff; it increases productivity and gets people to do things they would not normally do. A recent report by Andersen Consulting, entitled Capacity To Change, says most executives rely on financial crises for leverage. It cites a Unite
The Dance Centre had, over the past 23 years, developed a reputation for excellence across Australia as well as in the Perth dance community. The exam results achieved by its students were second to none. Many of its students had gone on to tertiary studies, majoring in dance. Others had progressed to dance administration with other organisations.
The school was located in one of Perth’s “blue ribbon” suburbs. It catered for students as young as four, through to young adults. Typically, students stayed with the school for 12 years, leaving when they finished high school.
The school had a high repeat rate between generations. Mothers who had been students were now sending their daughters there. There were 150 students at the school and eight teachers. Five boys attended the school. There were two classes each afternoon from 4pm to 7pm, as well as all day Saturday.
The emphasis at the school was on contemporary styles of jazz and modern dance, but it also had a strong classical school. Spanish dance was also taught.
The success of the school was based on the effort, passion and philosophy of the
John Koot is chief executive of Balfour Wauchope, Australia’s largest privately owned baking group. The company is based in Adelaide with 640 employees. He has been general manager of Westons Biscuits and general manager of Fine Earth Foods. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
AIM: Can you describe your career in management?
Koot: I didn’t go to university. I started as a storeman, and became the youngest store manager in Victoria at Half Case supermarkets. I was in charge of a business turning over $200,000 a week and with 100 people. Supermarkets are the toughest training ground: you work on such slim margins and have such tough cost and financial controls. Human relations are also very important because a lot of the staff are casual.
AIM: What came next?
Koot: I had a young family and was putting in 100 hours a week. I became a sales rep with Westons biscuits, then a sales supervisor. Then I was promoted to state sales manager in Adelaide. When I landed there the area had been floundering for many years: I made it the most profitable the company had.
AIM: What do you
Cultivating the learning organisation through coaching. By Suzanne Skiffington and Perry Zeus
How does one organisation achieve sustained success while a seemingly identical competitor is struggling? It is no accident that organisations consistently rated as leaders in their sectors are also some of the best places to work.
A New York institute recently asked employees in a wide variety of industries and vocations: “What is important in your job?” The top-ranking answer was “open communication”.
Coaching is an open-communication skill. The companies that ranked highest in the survey were led by people who communicate like coaches and facilitators rather than managers and bosses.
Our most important Asset
A recent United States study on managerial learning suggests that formal developmental relationships – that is, coaching and mentoring – are the most effective means of encouraging growth and change in managers. Of the respondents with formal coaching programs, 77% cited improved retention and improved overall performance. By creating a coaching culture the best organisations are taking practical steps to imple