Making it matter in a beautiful changing world by letting go

The other day, a friend was asking me whether I was going to expand and get myself an office. Really, I quite like keeping lean and using coffee shops and park benches as my office space… to me, I don’t really want an office at all! (Though my phone wants a tattoo…) And though there are teleconference challenges still to be overcome, security risks and self-management issues, but there are some perks to be able to go to work without having a shower, much less getting dressed…especially as the high-impact talent of today demands a better work-life balance.

I love how the economic circle turns… while we still have Indian students coming to study at our Universities, now our students are being tutored online by Indians in India! And the value for money that you can get is mind blowing… and is all the more important considering that India and China produce five times the number of science and engineering graduates as the United States. We need all the help we can get to keep up… And if the Australian government is serious about upping the birthrate, perhaps the baby bonus needs to be increased – for just a little extra, you can hire a uterus!

Having been involved with community groups for some time, one of the challenges that you face sooner or later is handing over control. This is especially a challenge when you’ve actually made a difference – where you’ve sought to lead the organisation in a particular direction. Studies of business development – like this case study from HBS – show how the ‘founder’ or early leader of a change is often replaced over time as the organisation moves to a different phase in development. The conclusion: Often, you can be the king of a small domain or the prince of a great empire.

My dad is getting close to retirement. He’s worked in the public circus forever and I struggle to see what he’s going to do with himself once he retires… maybe he’ll start his own company and become part of the wave of retirees flocking to create new wealth when they don’t really need to do it! My grandfather did it… so did the guy who created Dreamworld… Hopefully he’ll be a bit more sensible than the current array of media-tart-web 2.0 entrepreneurs.
I’m increasingly obsessed with design. To me, it’s where the value is being created today – it’s where it’s at. We have enough stuff, now we want it to deliver values… here are some of the Masters of Design… Jochen Zeitz (CEO, Puma AG), Steve McCallion (creative director
Ziba Design), Paula Scher (partner, Pentagram) and Clive Wilkinson (principal, Clive Wilkinson Architects).

It would seem that we could see more Fields Medalists (like a Nobel prize in maths) coming from outside the peer review system with the creation of internet-based journals that are peer-reviewed after publication like PLoS ONE and Philica. To me, this is very interesting, posing challenges to the existing publishers, though creating great opportunities for dynamic new findings and ideas – should be great to watch it grow. This direction has stimulated the venerable Nature already – they’ve started exploring how to maintain relevance with its own experiment in online peer-review. I wonder when we’re going to start creating concept maps of the concepts and supporting references though…

3 comments on “Making it matter in a beautiful changing world by letting go

  1. The world has changed and indeed it continues to change but how are some if not all people going to adapt? It is fine to teach students online but isn’t human interaction important as well? I do think we are no longer humans but rather humanoids in a gigantic theme park where reality has given away to a make believe type of existence. Recently I attended a meeting of Enviornmental Issues and I am sure you are going to pull me up for being side tracked but at this meeting the issues of over population and the running out or resources is becoming a big problem. In India and China a child is born every 1 min (I am not sure of exact minutes, seconds etc) and nothing is being done to curb the increase in birth rates. When the planet takes on more and more people then surely the usage of natural rescources and space are going to become a problem? I am not advocating a war but we need to take a hard look at this planet and realising the direction we are heading. People expect governments to rectify the problems but it is up to the individual and indeed the community to do something about it. In this country and in Western Nations we need to create and find alternatives rather than burning fossil fuels. In Brisbane and the South East we are experiencing the worst drought since the Federation drought and I believe firmly that recycled water is the only answer. In California they have been drinking recycled water since the late 1970’s and we saw a negative campaign in Toowoomba where the local Mayor had the ‘guts’ to bring the issue to the public. Instead of vast amounts of water going down the drain this water can be instead reused in a domestic sense. Rather than expand Australia’s population which has origins going back to Theordore Roosevelt who believed that Australia’s population should be expanded. Let us instead create wealth and prosperity in this country. Let us not see people leave our shores to work in other countries and let us increase our manufacture base here so that we retain our own industries. Instead of Australia being a gigantic mineral house of mining, why can’t we produce more and have less union domination of our waterfront. It amazes me that when compared to Singapore where more ships are loaded and unloaded, Australia has very few causing our waterfronts to be not as productive. I believe that Australa and New Zealand should work on a single currency and that New Zealand and Australia need to work closer together.

    We need to encourage young people today to perform and utilise their talents rather than ignore them in the political process. We need to restore order and authority where it is needed. We need to offer hope and understand people better and teach children about Australia’s history. If you expect people to be forced to vote in an election why not teach them in school about the poltical process. A recent survey which was conducted found a lot of Australians didn’t understand who the first Prime Minister of Australia was, when Federation occurred, and the origin of the Australian Flag with its 7 pointed star representing states and terriorities etc. The History of Australia was not only the legends of Ned Kelly and the various volumes of Manning Clark’s “A History of Australia” as it also included such notable figures of Burke and Wills, Banjo Patterson, Sir Henry Parkes to name a few which also helped shape our identity.

    To have a future we also need to have a past so lets not ignore it and use it as a means of coming forward.

  2. Thanks, Garry.
    You’ve raised a bunch of issues. I’ll try to tease out a few of them…

    1. Education: online vs contact
    Online education can be a very effective method of achieving learning outcomes. Different students learn better in a range of ways, but defining and expressing the outcomes is far more important than the delivery mode employed. In the case of the Indian tutors, they are filling a specific gap in the market rather than being used for the entire schooling experience, but that would require further research to really understand the impact.

    2. Population and environmental sustainability
    Birth rate controls have been enacted throughout much of the world, but the most effective method of birth rate control to me is ensuring that the costs used in calculation of profitability for development pathways take into account sustainability issues. We have enough food to feed everyone in the world – they just can’t pay for it! The solution starts by us working from our strengths. The reality is that we are FAR more efficient in producing – everything – today than we were in the past… We just need to start taking the total environmental impact when we’re doing our sums. Our current lack of sustainability is from off-balance sheet accounting in the form of not reporting on the environmental costs of activities. From water recycling to matching form and function in town planning, what we need is alignment and congruence in our planning, thinking and social culture. It starts with each of us.

    3. Australian manufacturing and productivity
    An economic unit should do whatever it is best at and trade their stuff to get whatever they want from elsewhere. Australia is great at mining; we’re not so good at farming, but still pretty good. We’re terrible at mass production. We’re pretty good at research and development. While it’s easy to suggest that we should manufacture stuff here, what are you going to make? We have risen up the value chain and enjoy a lifestyle that is the envy of the world: to maintain our standard of living, we need to create more value – not less!

    So let’s find how we, as a nation, can continue to lead the world in development and excellence and value creation. If we’re not, we end up competing with Indians who will work hard, longer for less than any Australian would tolerate. Protectionism doesn’t work – the answer is lifting up the value chain.

    Let’s be the best at what we’re best at…

  3. Dan I think we need to stand up to America a bit more in competition. I feel sometimes we fear that if we do that the Americans will not back us in certain areas. I cannot understand why America still measures and uses the Imperial System of Measurements, but let us find ones of producing ourselves and not being afraid to stand up to her.

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