It is clear that neither of the current candidates for next year’s political leadership shares their yearning for an investment in sanity, security and sound government.
The fact that more than two million Australians are seeking work, more work or more challenging work represents the real crisis for this nation - the absence of a commitment to a healthier, wealthier nation.
What this shows is we can’t rely on our political leaders for leadership. Here are ten things private companies, governments and bureaucracies need to address to build the entrepreneurial nation we all want.
- The rush to industrial conflict: there needs to be a new productivity accord between management and unions to make work worthwhile and produce breakthrough new goods and services.
- Boards and senior management need to drop the blame game and accept that they have to vacate the privileged cocoon of their board room and ritualised annual general meetings and meet directly with their staff and their customers to promote shared values and develop a shared vision.
- The nation needs to give the ACCC powers to break up the ‘she’ll-be-right’ mentality that delivers control of the economy to a handful of retail giants, a few media moguls and a couple of banks. We have seen in the last few months how the big bonus beneficiaries are sacking staff, calling for cuts to penalty rates and failing to follow the lead of the RBA with rate cuts.
- Superannuation fund managers should provide a significant venture capital fund to encourage start-ups and provide mezzanine finance for leading companies that have the potential to go global and build international brand presence for Australian innovations. We need to invest in tomorrow’s job creators and support micro enterprises and business innovation.
- Education establishments need to work more closely with industry leaders to identify the knowledge, skills and aptitudes required to use the nation’s short term mining boom to invest in new innovative global ventures. More money on more of the same institutions does not support foundation science for the post-mining years ahead.
- Begin to address demand the generational imbalance as the baby boomers demand more and more share of budgets whilst contributing less and less to economic performance. The boomers are going to live longer. David Blake, of the UK's Pensions Institute, points out that each decade people are living more than two years longer than the previous generation. Everyone needs to become aware of longevity risks beyond current saving levels.
- Focus investments on lifestyle and health promotion efforts that reverse the epidemic of preventable chronic diseases. If nothing is done, the avalanche of health costs will be a growing tax burden.
- Companies need to redirect resources to strategic leadership and social development that improves the quality of management talent directing the fate of organisations. Companies need to be prepared for a more uncertain future.
- To guide this, they should follow the advice of the McKinsey Global Survey (October 2009) on the six important leadership skills that are crucial for an organisation’s future success. These areas include challenging assumptions, encouraging risk taking, inspiring employees, clearly defining expectations, rewarding achievements and participative decision-making.
- Departmental heads and public servants need to stop blaming the amount of money they’re given for their failures of implementation.
According to Saul Eslake, “productivity is, at its simplest, a measure of how effectively or efficiently a workplace, a business or government agency, a region or a nation as a whole uses the resources at its disposal to produce goods and services which are in turn valued, in some way, by those who consume or use them
The nation is fixated on the unrealities of a hung parliament, waiting for a new election and a double dissolution to try to stop a handful of desperate asylum seekers being treated with dignity and denied entitlements. Both major parties are climbing trees to escape the inevitable need to address a total failure of perceived leadership and avoid making any commitments.
Sooner rather than later, leading companies will need to ignore the toxic negativity of a hung parliament. And when a new government is elected, it will have to stop talking about boats and turn instead to enhancing productivity.