Insights is a collection of observations and musings on industry-wide, as well as more specific or more global, topics, which illuminate the driving forces behind what we do – and why we do it.
Who turned the lights out? The slow death of General Electric (GE)
‘My second day as chairman, a plane I lease, flying with engines I built, crashed into a building that I insure, and it was covered by a (news) network I own.’ (GE’s CEO and Chairman, Jeff Immelt commenting on the events of 9/11) Who or what is General Electric – and why should I care? It is almost impossible to explain the influence, power, and mystique of General Electric (GE) to those born after a certain year, who have not lived in the US or studied its great companies. Before Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon there was GE. Its brand stood for all that was successful about 20th century industrial America. GE was America, and America was GE. The love affair was mutual.
Learning from Deng Xiaoping: leadership principles from the man who transformed China
Deng: a man of unresolved contradictions. Folksy grandfather, pragmatic change agent, communist ideologue, cunning international negotiator, beloved family man, autodidact, brutal militarist, godchild of Marx and Lenin, relentless promoter of economic development, persecuted leader and lover of science and technology.
Governing the system: making things happen when we don’t have control
Almost every human being, and just about all organisations, want to be in control of what goes on around them –even if some won’t admit it. Without a degree of control there will be varying degrees of chaos. Chaos can be fun, but not when we do not want it. Contrary to some management writers, I believe that there is nothing wrong with exercising control, particularly if we are going to be held accountable by a boss or a board or where safety and well-being is at stake. But the fact is, control is often more a comforting illusion than a concrete reality.
Australians are abusing power like never before – and it’s time we did something about it
Australians are abusing power like never before – and it’s time we did something about it It was the recent release of an Australian Human Right’s Commission report into Australian gymnastics that finally brought home a sad fact: Australians have a problem with power. A very specific problem. We seem increasingly happy to tolerate the abuse of power, particularly the abuse of the weak by the strong, of the vulnerable by the powerful.
Bypassing governance best practice: Australia Post and the consequences of governments setting a low bar
Joining contentious debates while they are still raging is generally not my style. Any number of commentators and journalists regularly add value to difficult day to day issues through writing well about matters as they evolve; even more excel at doing the opposite!
The Art of the Trade-Off
Anyone who has conducted a personal or business negotiation, reached any kind of deal, or made an agreement with another person, knows what a trade-off is. Given the above sentence describes just about all of humankind, the reality is, we have all made trade-offs even if we do not recognise or use the term.
What’s the risk?
Life has always been a risky business. The fear and concern generated by Covid-19 has served to surface the fact that there are widely varying understandings of risk across our community. There are equally broad views as to how serious risk can and should be managed or, to use the technical term, mitigated.
The crisis in trust – and why it matters
It is almost impossible for a society, community, business, or family to function without a degree of trust. Trust literally makes the world go around. It is a valuable commodity. No leader or corporation wants to be considered untrustworthy. Even the most brutal dictator craves the title of ‘trusted leader’ - some even project themselves as a caring father or mother figure, trading on the trust invested in the parental role.
Seeing what we want to see in our economy and the failed art of picking winners
One of the challenges of the current recession is that the quick thinking and action needed to deal with the pandemic, and manage the economic consequences, serves to reinforce existing ideas of what makes a nation, its economy and our communities ‘work.’ Dealing with the crisis has in some ways reinforced stereotypes, mis-information on the actual makeup of our economy and a desire to return to that old ‘go to’ for Australian governments of all stripes – the temptation to pick winners.
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