#Strongwomen. "I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it." Kristin Armstrong
I have religiously stored the records for 3 businesses for almost 35 years. That stuff takes up a lot of space. The tax man says you only have to keep it for 7 years but you just cant put in the garbage bin. So I got my act together and had a secure documents bin delivered .
Mmmh when I saw it I knew it was going to be a longgggg process. The bin is locked and you have to feed everything through the A4 size slit in the top.
The process has also hit a number of distractions along the way including the discovery of old photo albums. in the 80’s and 90’s I was very good at keeping photographs that documented my family’s life. My Aunty Esme was even more impressive and she wrote on the back of all the photos she took and gave copies to all the people in them
This is you Murray Chittick on my first pony in my Aunt and Uncle’s back yard. Uncle Henry is holding Lady. The date is 18th June 1979 ( which just happens to be my father’s birthday – he would have been 49 when that photo was taken)
Its funny the things you think of in the moment. This photo proved to be another big distraction
Me by the pool in New Caledonia when I was 21
It reminded me I was never ever going to have that waist again and not only did I have a room full of boxes and boxes of documents I don’t need I also have wardrobes and wardrobes of clothes I will never be able to wear again
Its a lot easier to fill bags of clothes for Vinnies than it is to push secure documents into a very narrow hole. I am very impressed with how much wardrobe space I have freed up
Re the documents I estimate at the rate I am going I will need another two weeks – it maybe slow but I will do you proud ( eventually ) Marie Kondo
I recently signed up for a workshop with Amy Gallo, an international expert in dealing with difficult people
If we are honest with ourselves we can all be difficult to deal with if some-one touches the wrong buttons at the wrong time.
I manage a capability building program for young people who are “doers” and changemakers
I often find myself fielding calls asking for advice on how to handle people who are resistant to change
The first thing I say is “This is not my area of expertise”
Whilst I have done multiple workshops across the world with world class experts like Amy. Its one thing to learn the theory, its another to put into into practice, another to find safe spaces to practice it and the mega important one finding the role models in the Compassion Curiosity Framework space that you can surround yourself with, learn from and channel when you need to
What my years of training has allowed me to do is identify the people who do it well and they make my heart sing
I saw an extraordinary example when I watched Series 12 Episode 2 of Call the Midwife recently
This 4 min video collates the scenes that I am referring to. Watch how Sister Julienne role models the Compassionate Curiosity Framework ( hear Kwame Christian talk about the framework here )
I was presented with the above ethical quandary while writing this. Someone on social media commented that she’d wanted to approach me recently but felt she couldn’t because she had two kids in tow at the time. She figured I’d judge her for being a “procreator” given my climate activism work and anti-consumption stance. It was an unfortunate assumption. I had only last week written about how bringing population growth into the climate crisis blame-fest is wrong, ethically and factually (it’s not how many we are, it’s how we live).
Of course, her self-conscious pain was real. But did I need to repent if I’d done nothing wrong, and certainly not intentionally (indeed, I’d not acted, in bad faith or otherwise).
I decided there was still a very good opportunity to switch out an “if” for a “that”. I replied: “I’m sorry that you felt….”. And I was. I didn’t want her to have that impression of judgement from another, nor to feel so self-conscious. I was sorry in the broad sense of feeling bad for her. Feeling sorry can be a sense of tapping into a collective regret for the way things are, even if you are not directly responsible.
The real opportunity here was to take on responsibility for healing any hurt, and to speed it up. If I’d listed out and justified why this person was mistaken (wrong) in feeling as she did, I’d have also missed an opportunity to be raw and open to the broader pain of the human condition.
Doing good apology is essentially an act in correctly apportioning the tasks required to get the outcome that we are all after, which, for most adults, is growth, intimacy and expansion. Ruttenberg makes the point that some indigenous cultures work to this (more mature) style of repentance (as opposed to cheap grace), as well as various radical restorative justice movements. I note that the authors and elders who contributed to the Uluru Statement from the Heart often remind us that the document is an invitation to all Australians to grow into our next era.
and to help us all do it better – the full post from The Ethics Centre
As we gear up for a referendum on a Voice to Parliament next year, I’ve been wondering if we need to have a better look at the way we say sorry.
We live in a highly binary and individualistic world that struggles to repent well. Yet we are increasingly aware of – and flummoxed by – bad faith efforts at the gesture.
Witness the fallout from former Prime Minister Scott Morrisons’ baffling response speech to being censured last week in which he refused to apologise to the nation. I reckon we ache to do better; we want true healing.
We could start with looking at the way we so often insist on whacking the Almighty Absolving Qualifier “if” when we issue an “I’m sorry”. I’m sorry if you’re offended/upset/angry. We go and plug one in where a perfectly good “that” would do a far better job.
But an “if” negates any repentant intent. Actually, worse. It gaslights. It puts up for dispute whether the hurt or offence is actually being felt and whether it is legitimate. Attention switches to the victim’s authenticity and their right to feel injured. Did you actually get hurt? Hmmm….
Things get even more disconcerting when the quasi-apologiser thinks they have done something gallant with their qualified “I’m sorry”. And will gaslight you again if you pull them up on the flimsiness of it. What, so you can’t even accept an apology!
I had a rich, senior businessmen do the if-sorry job on me recently. “I’m sorry if you’re angry,” he said in a really rather small human way. Rather than standing there miffed, I replied, “Great! Yep, you definitely fucked up. And so I’m definitely and rightly angry. Now that’s established, sure, I’ll take on that you’d like to repent.”
I heard a well-known doctor on the radio the other morning very consciously (it seemed) drop the if from the equation when he had to apologise for making remarks about a minority group (in error) in a previous broadcast. “I’m sorry I said those things. I was wrong. I’m not going to justify myself. There are no excuses. I was in the wrong,” he said. It was a good, textbook apology and he probably wouldn’t land in trouble for it.
But, and it immediately begs, is that the point of an apology?
For the wrongdoer to stay out of trouble? For them to neatly right a wrong by going through a small moment of awkward, vulnerable exposure?
What about the victim? Where do they sit in apologies?
I recall listening to a radio discussion where all this was dissected. The point that grabbed me at the time was this: In our culture, the responsibility of ensuring that an apology is effective in bringing closure to a conflict mostly rests on the victim, the person being apologised to. No matter the calibre of the apology, it’s up to the person who has been wronged to be all “that’s ok, we’re sweet” about things. They are effectively responsible for making the perpetrator feel OK in their awkward vulnerable moment. (And to keep the pain shortlived.)
And so a successful apology rests in the victim’s readiness to forgive.
Which is all the wrong way around. At an individual-to-individual level it’s cheap grace. The wrongdoer gets absolved with so little accountability involved.
At a macro level, say with injuries like racism or sexism, we can see the setup is about a minority class forgiving, or bowing once again, to the powerful.
Ruttenberg argues we are doing apologies inadequately and in a way that fails to repair the damage done precisely because we privilege forgiveness over repentance.
So how to apologise like you mean it
Drawing on the 12th Century philosopher Maimonides, Ruttenberg sets out five steps to a proper apology.
The wrongdoer fully owns that they did something wrong. There’s to be no blabbing of great intentions, or how “circumstances” conspired; no “if” qualifiers. You did harm, own it! Ideally, she says, the confession is done publicly.
2. Start to Change
Next, you the work to educate yourself, get therapy etc. Like, demonstrate you’re in the process of shifting your ways. You’re talk and trousers!
3. Make amends
But do so with the victim’s needs in mind. What would make them feel like some kind of repair was happening? Cash? Donate to a charity they care about?
4. OK, now we get to the apology!
The point of having the apology sitting right down at Step 4 is so that by the time the words “I’m sorry” are uttered, we, as the perpetrator, are engaged and own things. The responsibility is firmly with us, not the victim. By this late stage in the repenting process we are alive to how the victim felt and genuinely want them to feel seen. It’s not a ticking of a box kinda thing. Plus, we’ve taken the responsibility for bringing about closure, or healing, out of the victim’s hands.
5.Don’t do it again
OK, so this is a critical final step. But there’s a much better chance the injury won’t be repeated if the person who did the harm has complete the preceding four steps, according to Ruttenberg and Maimonides.
Does forgiveness have to happen?
I went and read some related essays by Rabbi Ruttenberg just now. The other point that she makes is that whether or not the victim forgives the perpetrator is moot. When you apologise like you mean it (as per the five steps), I guestimate that 90 per cent of the healing required for closure has been done by the perpetrator. And it happens regardless of whether the harmed party forgives, because the harm-doer sat in the issue and committed to change. The spiritual or emotional or psychological shift has already occurred.
I should think that, looking at it from a victim-centric perspective, this opened space allows the harmed party to feel more comfortable to forgive, should they choose to.
It’s a win-win, regardless of whether the aggrieved waves the forgiveness stick.
(The Rabbi notes that in Judaism, as opposed to Christianity, there is no compulsion for the harmed party to forgive.)
.. the traditional dairy sector must recognise it’s on the cusp of pivotal change. In the face of multiple threats, it should maximise the social benefits of both animal-based dairy and minimise its contribution to climate change. Milena Bojovic PhD Candidate at Macquarie University.
What does the future hold for our rural amenity and the role the cows play in it?
By 1976 Kodak accounted for 90% of film and 85% of camera sales in America. Until the 1990s it was regularly rated one of the world’s five most valuable brands.
Then came digital photography to replace film, and smartphones to replace cameras. Kodak’s revenues peaked at nearly $16 billion in 1996 and its profits at $2.5 billion in 1999. The consensus forecast by analysts is that its revenues in 2011 were $6.2 billion. It recently reported a third-quarter loss of $222m, the ninth quarterly loss in three years. In 1988, Kodak employed over 145,000 workers worldwide; at the last count, barely one-tenth as many. Its share price has fallen by nearly 90% in the past year (see chart).
For weeks, rumours have swirled around Rochester, the company town that Kodak still dominates, that unless the firm quickly sells its portfolio of intellectual property, it will go bust. Two announcements on January 10th—that it is restructuring into two business units and suing Apple and HTC over various alleged patent infringements—gave hope to optimists. But the restructuring could be in preparation for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
While Kodak suffers, its long-time rival Fujifilm is doing rather well. The two firms have much in common. Both enjoyed lucrative near-monopolies of their home markets: Kodak selling film in America, Fujifilm in Japan. A good deal of the trade friction during the 1990s between America and Japan sprang from Kodak’s desire to keep cheap Japanese film off its patch.
Both firms saw their traditional business rendered obsolete. But whereas Kodak has so far failed to adapt adequately, Fujifilm has transformed itself into a solidly profitable business, with a market capitalisation, even after a rough year, of some $12.6 billion to Kodak’s $220m. Why did these two firms fare so differently?
Both saw change coming. Larry Matteson, a former Kodak executive who now teaches at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, recalls writing a report in 1979 detailing, fairly accurately, how different parts of the market would switch from film to digital, starting with government reconnaissance, then professional photography and finally the mass market, all by 2010. He was only a few years out.
Fujifilm, too, saw omens of digital doom as early as the 1980s. It developed a three-pronged strategy: to squeeze as much money out of the film business as possible, to prepare for the switch to digital and to develop new business lines.
Both firms realised that digital photography itself would not be very profitable. “Wise businesspeople concluded that it was best not to hurry to switch from making 70 cents on the dollar on film to maybe five cents at most in digital,” says Mr Matteson. But both firms had to adapt; Kodak was slower.
A culture of complacency
Its culture did not help. Despite its strengths—hefty investment in research, a rigorous approach to manufacturing and good relations with its local community—Kodak had become a complacent monopolist. Fujifilm exposed this weakness by bagging the sponsorship of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles while Kodak dithered. The publicity helped Fujifilm’s far cheaper film invade Kodak’s home market.
Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm. Working in a one-company town did not help, either. Kodak’s bosses in Rochester seldom heard much criticism of the firm, she says. Even when Kodak decided to diversify, it took years to make its first acquisition. It created a widely admired venture-capital arm, but never made big enough bets to create breakthroughs, says Ms Kanter.
Bad luck played a role, too. Kodak thought that the thousands of chemicals its researchers had created for use in film might instead be turned into drugs. But its pharmaceutical operations fizzled, and were sold in the 1990s.
Fujifilm diversified more successfully. Film is a bit like skin: both contain collagen. Just as photos fade because of oxidation, cosmetics firms would like you to think that skin is preserved with anti-oxidants. In Fujifilm’s library of 200,000 chemical compounds, some 4,000 are related to anti-oxidants. So the company launched a line of cosmetics, called Astalift, which is sold in Asia and is being launched in Europe this year.
Fujifilm also sought new outlets for its expertise in film: for example, making optical films for LCD flat-panel screens. It has invested $4 billion in the business since 2000. And this has paid off. In one sort of film, to expand the LCD viewing angle, Fujifilm enjoys a 100% market share.
George Fisher, who served as Kodak’s boss from 1993 until 1999, decided that its expertise lay not in chemicals but in imaging. He cranked out digital cameras and offered customers the ability to post and share pictures online.
A brilliant boss might have turned this idea into something like Facebook, but Mr Fisher was not that boss. He failed to outsource much production, which might have made Kodak more nimble and creative. He struggled, too, to adapt Kodak’s “razor blade” business model. Kodak sold cheap cameras and relied on customers buying lots of expensive film. (Just as Gillette makes money on the blades, not the razors.) That model obviously does not work with digital cameras. Still, Kodak did eventually build a hefty business out of digital cameras—but it lasted only a few years before camera phones scuppered it.
Kodak also failed to read emerging markets correctly. It hoped that the new Chinese middle class would buy lots of film. They did for a short while, but then decided that digital cameras were cooler. Many leap-frogged from no camera straight to a digital one.
Kodak’s leadership has been inconsistent. Its strategy changed with each of several new chief executives. The latest, Antonio Perez, who took charge in 2005, has focused on turning the firm into a powerhouse of digital printing (something he learnt about at his old firm, Hewlett-Packard, and which Kodak still insists will save it). He has also tried to make money from the firm’s huge portfolio of intellectual property—hence the lawsuit against Apple.
At Fujifilm, too, technological change sparked an internal power struggle. At first the men in the consumer-film business, who refused to see the looming crisis, prevailed. But the eventual winner was Shigetaka Komori, who chided them as “lazy” and “irresponsible” for not preparing better for the digital onslaught. Named boss incrementally between 2000 and 2003, he quickly set about overhauling the firm.
He has spent around $9 billion on 40 companies since 2000. He slashed costs and jobs. In one 18-month stretch, he booked more than ¥250 billion ($3.3 billion) in restructuring costs for depreciation and to shed superfluous distributors, development labs, managers and researchers. “It was a painful experience,” says Mr Komori. “But to see the situation as it was, nobody could survive. So we had to reconstruct the business model.”
This sort of pre-emptive action, even softened with generous payouts, is hardly typical of corporate Japan. Few Japanese managers are prepared to act fast, make big cuts and go on a big acquisition spree, observes Kenichi Ohmae, the father of Japanese management consulting.
For Mr Komori, it meant unwinding the work of his predecessor, who had handpicked him for the job—a big taboo in Japan. Still, Mr Ohmae reckons that Japan Inc’s long-term culture, which involves little shareholder pressure for short-term performance and tolerates huge cash holdings, made it easier for Fujifilm to pursue Mr Komori’s vision. American shareholders might not have been so patient. Surprisingly, Kodak acted like a stereotypical change-resistant Japanese firm, while Fujifilm acted like a flexible American one.
Mr Komori says he feels “regret and emotion” about the plight of his “respected competitor”. Yet he hints that Kodak was complacent, even when its troubles were obvious. The firm was so confident about its marketing and brand that it tried to take the easy way out, says Mr Komori.
In the 2000s it tried to buy ready-made businesses, instead of taking the time and expense to develop technologies in-house. And it failed to diversify enough, says Mr Komori: “Kodak aimed to be a digital company, but that is a small business and not enough to support a big company.”
Perhaps the challenge was simply too great. “It is a very hard problem. I’ve not seen any other firm that had such a massive gulf to get across,” says Clay Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, an influential business book. “It was such a fundamentally different technology that came in, so there was no way to use the old technology to meet the challenge.”
Kodak’s blunder was not like the time when Digital Equipment Corporation, an American computer-maker, failed to spot the significance of personal computers because its managers were dozing in their comfy chairs. It was more like “seeing a tsunami coming and there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Mr Christensen.
Dominant firms in other industries have been killed by smaller shocks, he points out. Of the 316 department-store chains of a few decades ago, only Dayton Hudson has adapted well to the modern world, and only because it started an entirely new business, Target. And that is what creative destruction can do to a business that has changed only gradually—the shops of today would not look alien to time-travellers from 50 years ago, even if their supply chains have changed beyond recognition.
Could Kodak have avoided its current misfortunes? Some say it could have become the equivalent of “Intel Inside” for the smartphone camera—a brand that consumers trust. But Canon and Sony were better placed to achieve that, given their superior intellectual property, and neither has succeeded in doing so.
Unlike people, companies can in theory live for ever. But most die young, because the corporate world, unlike society at large, is a fight to the death. Fujifilm has mastered new tactics and survived. Film went from 60% of its profits in 2000 to basically nothing, yet it found new sources of revenue. Kodak, along with many a great company before it, appears simply to have run its course. After 132 years it is poised, like an old photo, to fade away.
What will the view from my front verandah look like without the cows?
As a sixth generation dairy farmer this concept seems so far fetched but then so did the smart phone twenty years ago
We have a new council. They plan to make protection of rural lands a pillar. But what are we protecting the land from?
Is the science going to decide for us or are the property developers with deep pockets?
Where does the native flora and fauna fit into all of this?
We have an amazing opportunity to have our voices heard as part of the community consultation process for the new Local Environmental Plan.
I look forward to hearing the community’s hopes and dreams for the future
And what of our dairy farmers and the cows. What does Just Transition look like?
Me – I feel so passionately about Sam Archer’s vision I nominated hm for the 2014 Bob Hawke Landcare Award. Sam was runner up and like me retired from farming. Does that allow us to have the best of both worlds – inside and outside perspectives?
“No Australian political party is doing serious thinking about how to knit together food, farming and environmental policies to continue feeding the population while mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss.”
In 2016 the United Nations announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that give every business including agriculture a global blueprint to guide our country’s activities towards a global collaborative achievement of sustainable development. The SDGs provide a ‘common language’ through which our rural industries can communicate domestically and globally, in alignment with world leaders on the SDG index as well as Australia’s major trading partners.
They also provide an extraordinary opportunity to develop a leadership capability framework to support the National Farmers Federation 2030 roadmap.
Leading change for a sustainable economy and planet has a huge focus in Europe yet big business in Australia is much slower to move into this space.
“The systemic pressures the world faces today mean that leadership simply cannot be the preserve of a ‘heroic’ few. Delivering the future we want will require organisations to cultivate leadership at all levels, and to embrace diverse and complementary strengths and approaches. The focus will be on developing collective leadership capacity, with individuals supported and inspired to deliver against their potential, and to contribute effectively within their personal strengths and role.”
Whilst progress on building the knowledge, thinking and practice around the new normal is very slow at government level our teachers are grasping the Sustainability Leadership mantle firmly ensuring our young people are going to be ready for the jobs of the future.
By mapping our future leadership needs and deploying our people for good, we have a significant opportunity to shape the food production agenda and deliver an equitable system for all.
There is also icing on the cake with a number of economic benefits from SDG reporting globally to be realised through enhancements to the natural environment.
FOOD WASTE: Potential to lower global costs of food waste for saving AUD $240 to $600B per year (20-30 per cent of food globally is wasted through post-harvest losses that are easy to prevent)
FOREST ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Potential to lower Global costs of deforestation and forest degradation: AUD $200B to $550B per year (Deforestation and forest degradation which currently account for 17 per cent of global emissions
RENEWABLE ENERGY: Increase renewables’ share of energy generation worldwide could increase to 45 per cent by 2030 (from 23 per cent in 2014) (IRENA, 2014) Potential to lower global costs of non-renewable energy: AUD $250B to $900B
Thanks to Jo Eady from Rural Scope and Mark Paterson from Currie Communication for inspiration for this post
In my quest to collect information and data about how we can best support women in rural and regional Australia through The Wise Women Project, I interviewed Australian Rural Consultant of the Year Dr Neil Moss
Neil was, as always very pragmatic, and it was this statement that was a wake-up call for me.
On reflecting on the 20 plus years Neil has been consulting to dairy farmers he said
“A state of chaos is the normal in most years in the dairy industry”
Chaos and disruption is normal. Our reflections on the past and what we consider “normal” are often blinded by our experiences of our early and formative years in agriculture. Those that became agricultural aware in the 50’s or 70’s reflect on the wetter times being the normal. I became “agriculturally aware” on the Monaro in the early 80s when my parents moved to Dalgety and bought the general store- my perception of normal is some degree of drought interspersed with occasional but appreciated wet times. The world was different – we were protected by more favourable terms of trade, lower land values and in some industries quota and floor prices. Many farmers continued to innovate and move forward during and since those times but some have stood still.
No business is immune from change and this is not unique to agriculture. Costs have risen, terms of trade have declined, land values have escalated dramatically and our need to be more efficient, that is, to get more from less, has only become more acute. Stocking rates have had to rise to keep pace, expectations of higher productivity continue and as a result, whether or not you accept the science of climate change, all farms are more exposed to drought and climate risk than they ever have been before. These are the messages that we need to get out. Farmers need to be adopting technology, innovation, improvements in management, improvements in efficiency, improvements in resource use efficiency.
These conversations can be coupled with conversations about sustainability, the reality of carbon cycling in agriculture, emissions intensity, sustainable intensification and animal wellbeing. These factors should not be viewed as being mutually exclusive with productivity, profitability and resilience- the opposite is the true reality.
On the question of genuine financial literacy and valuing everyone in the business
Returns in agriculture need to be carefully considered. While income is important, asset growth and wealth creation need to be factored, as well as the people who are contributing both paid and in-kind labour as well as founding capital. Unfortunately, in many cases no individual is getting income paid directly – It’s just declared as co-drawings. This can make things like tracking or contributing superannuation or other entitlements, generally taken for granted outside of agriculture, very problematic.
Ideally, all businesses should factor in labour costs and pay staff whether they be family or not
It is a critical conversation to have when you’re looking at whether a business is viable in the first place. If your business doesn’t provide for labour costs, then there is risk that what you may be doing is effectively indulging a hobby farming career.
When we look at this there are two things to consider
Diligence when people are establishing and reviewing the business objectively to also apply a proper wage structures, to all people that are contributing. Otherwise, you are not acknowledging opportunity lost costs of all those involved.
And secondarily, when we are talking about technology and innovation:
Identify how the technology can help and also what are its costs and requirements such as training and integration into the whole farm system that need to be considered
Identify who are the drivers of the adoption and uptake of technology on farms?
On the question of the adoption of technology
Frequently, it’s the women that are more engaged in exploring and bringing new technology to the farm and suggesting where it fits in. Women often have a capacity to sit back, look and say, “Well, why are you doing it that way? Maybe there is a better way and I’m going to go out and find it.”
Whereas quite often, and certainly not always, (there are great examples of technology being adopted by all genders), males can get locked into a “that’s how we do it, that’s how dad did it, that’s how we’re going to keep doing it” mindset.
It is important to not just talk about technology, it’s important we talk about adoption of change in management practices as well as technology, that reflects new knowledge in how things can be done. Quite often we do not need a new gadget or machine, just a review of how things are done and processes in light of the ever evolving on and off farm innovation that is occurring across the world- we are so much better connected these days to world-wide innovation, and it is often women that drive and thrive with this connectivity and approach to critical thinking.
It is important to conduct studies rather than rely on the anecdotal information because the people who are already having these conversations are often working with the progressive or aspirational farmers who are already on the innovation wave or are looking to get on board and wanting to do better.
We need to better understand why some farmers embrace and move forward with technology and innovation and some chose not to.
Questions we should be asking
Who is adopting the technology,
Are they using it to its best advantage?
What are they doing with the data that they’re collecting?
Where do you get your information on technology?
How is that information communicated to you?
Who in the farm team is responsible for bringing it to the table?
What processes of review do you have before adopting a technology?
What are the real barriers to technology and change being taken up- is it capital, culture, consensus, access, training or poor explanation of potential benefits and across business synergies?
On the question of the importance of a commitment to lifelong learning
We all know many very successful people who do not have a tertiary education- a university degree or similar is not a pre-requisite for success! However, many of the most successful farmers I am lucky enough to work with adopt a lifelong approach to ongoing continuing education, and learning, albeit less structured. These farmers understand the drivers of their business, they appreciate the critical importance of timing and decisiveness, they understand and manage their key risks and they continue to update skills and knowledge. A profitable and resilient industry needs farming management teams that consider all of this.
In the wake of some of the recent natural disasters I have been doing some recovery work with farms that have been less exposed to both broader industry extension efforts and use of consultants. Irrespective of the real devastation that they had experienced, the failure of either delivery or uptake of messaging and practices that many farmers and advisers consider as basics and fundamentals was deeply concerning. We need to find better ways to connect innovation and technology right across the broad spectrum of aspiration and ambition
On the question of how do we inspire change
To inspire change the industry has used role models and it has had various programs. The issue I see is the industry continues to preach to the converted. You have the same 30% of farms that attend 90% of the structured education extension offerings.
There is a large component of industry that will never embrace or adopt change, time or the next natural disaster or industry price shock will unfortunately catch up with many of these business.
Concerning as it is we may need to accept that it doesn’t matter how hard or what we try and do, there’s going to be many farms that are never going to or want to progress-and that is ok and that is absolutely their choice.
There just must be an acceptance of that.
While the Australian public is in general deeply supportive of agriculture and farmers, the tolerance towards repeated bail outs and support packages may be wearing thin. There is a need to be honest and transparent with the farming sector that next time there is a drought or a price shock, if they haven’t gone out and upskilled, and improved, and taken the opportunities that are there to make their business more resilient, then the public’s tolerance and acceptance of taxpayer funded bail-outs being delivered are being continually eroded
Very few farming businesses are optimized and there is existing and evolving technologies and management changes that can continue to improve efficiency and resilience. People must look on their side of the farm gate first, assess and challenge the operations and structures in their business and see what they can adopt and how they can improve management and adopt technology, and just not blame the milk price next time something goes wrong. This is not to say that issues around inappropriate milk pricing structures should remain uncontested when they do occur as has recently been the case.
This wise woman is very grateful to have this very wise man in her life – thank you Neil
After spending 25 years working in the for purpose- for profit space I have always been flabbergasted by the way governments spend taxpayer money
I am equally shocked that our governments lack of attention to detail around accountability seems to be so rarely questioned by taxpayers.
We live in a complex world. The challenges we confront today are many. Being future ready requires us to rethink our core processes and practices
No-one has a monopoly on good ideas. Yet our governments throw grant money around like the next quick fix is just around the corner.
Surely real break throughs come from cross sector collaboration, strategic funding and policy making and creating enabling environments?
How do we help our politicians see success requires a human centred approach and sustainable change happens at community level?
It should go without saying that solutions must go beyond having isolated impact and deliver progress at scale.
It was heartening and enlightening to read Stacey Barr’s newsletter this week
“Stacey is a specialist in strategic performance measurement and evidence-based leadership.”
In her newsletter Stacey gives a a lot of food for thought with questions like
Is the return on our taxes quantified by how much activity government does with those taxes?
Where is the evidence of how it’s improved the quality of life for everyone?
Isn’t that the evidence we most want them to use to spend taxes ever more wisely?
Do government organisations measure their performance with activity measures, because they focus too much on what they can control, and not on what they should influence?
You will find an extract of Stacey’s newsletter below. You can find out how your organisation can work with Stacey here
“Is This Why Government’s Performance Measures Are Activity-Focused?”
The performance measurement advice that government gives its entities causes the biggest measurement problem in the public sector: trivial activity measures.
Everyone wants government organisations to perform well. Unlike the private sector, they can’t be judged by profit. But we all want to know that the tax we pay is being put to good use.
Notoriously, public sector organisations don’t measure their performance well. From my 2017 study, ‘How many organisations have meaningful KPIs‘, I found that only 6% have measures that provide direct evidence of their strategic goals.
In part it’s because public accountability is tough. To avoid the distraction of dealing with reactive public scrutiny, government leaders can resort to vanity metrics and measures of how much activity they’re doing. They will avoid measurement of the real results their organisation exists to create for the community.
But another reason why public sector organisations don’t measure performance well is likely due to the advice they get from their regulators about how and what to measure. This advice unwittingly sends them in the wrong direction:
To believe that strategic objectives are too high-level to measure, rather than making strategic objectives measurable.
To focus on what is within the organisation’s control, rather than the social results it exists to influence.
To measure activity, rather than measuring results.
We will see this problem clearly in the advice given in the Australian Government’s Resource Management Guide 131 (RMG-131) for developing good performance information. It exists to support the PGPA Act for Australian Government entities. But the same goes for many other countries’ government advice for performance measurement.
If public sector organisations are going to truly improve and demonstrate the value they generate with taxpayer’s money, a few things need to be fixed in the advice they follow for developing performance measures.
Fix 1: Strategic objectives can be high-level and measurable.
The first fix to the advice government gives itself on how to measure performance is to provide guidance on how to measure strategic objectives. Any change we intend to make should be observable, and therefore should be measurable. Our strategic objectives describe intended changes, and can be written measurably with a little deliberate effort.
Item 15 in RMG-131 says that because an entity’s purposes (which they define in item 16 as strategic objectives) are naturally high-level, performance measurements should be based on lower-level objectives derived from it’s purposes.
The problem with this advise is that it essentially advises government organisations to not bother looking for ways to directly measure their strategic objectives, but to focus on measuring their activities.
And this leads us to the next problem: measuring only what they can control, not what they should influence.
Fix 2: Public sector organisations exist to influence, not control.
The harsh truth is that no entity can have control over everything it wants to change. Control assumes things are predictable. But our world is somewhere between predictable and unpredictable. And that’s the realm of influence, not control. The most meaningful performance measures for improvement of effectiveness and efficiency (government loves these words) are measures of influence, not control.
Item 20 in RMG-131 suggests government entities use the Logic Model to more easily measure the things they have direct control over. They allude to the notion that they have too little influence over the outcomes they contribute to, to measure their impact on those outcomes.
The problem with this advice is that government organisations will resort to measuring only what they have direct control over. And what they have direct control over is what they choose to do; how they spend their allocated budget. They assume that what they have chosen to do will, indeed, positively impact the outcomes they contribute to.
This, again, leads to another problem: measuring the doing of activity, not the achievements from activity.
Fix 3: Measuring activity means measuring the results of that activity.
In PuMP, we do measure activity. But it’s the results of activities that we design performance measures to evidence. Activities are just smaller parts of the larger organisational system of processes, functions, goals and purpose (as described in the Results Map, activities are in the outer layer).
Item 17 of RMG-131 does suggest that performance measures should focus on what the activity is intended to achieve. But the measure examples given include many actions or measures of how much action, like these:
“Effective administration of investment in road infrastructure”
(what should be quantified to know how effective?)
“Coordinate the National Road Safety Action Plan 2018-2020 through the Council of Australian Governments’ Transport and Infrastructure Council”
(what is the result of this that should be quantified?)
“Number of site visits undertaken nationally”
(what is the result of a site visit that should be quantified?)
The problem with the advice of item 17 is that it’s not reinforced with consistent and proper examples of measures of activity results. If you take just 10 minutes to look at your own strategic plan, or that of any public sector organisation you immediately think of, chances are you’ll find too many action-oriented measures and too few results-oriented measures.
Thank you Stacey
Our politicians work for us. They spend our money. They report to us. We can all play an active role in ensuring they are accountable and show evidence of how our money is being spent to improve the quality of life for everyone.
There is a real opportunity here for our politicians and our governments to be leadership role models
In “Think Again” – Grant shares the story of a black musician who estimates that he has helped upwards of two hundred white supremacists rethink their beliefs and leave the KKK and other neo-Nazi groups. It began with a conversation with a white supremist who heard him play and he asked him a HOW question ( in preference to a WHY question )
“How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”
Here is a an extract from the book
It’s one thing to love your team. It’s another to hate your rivals so much that you’d consider rooting for terrorists to crush them. If you despise a particular sports team—and its fans—you’re harbouring some strong opinions about a group of people. Those beliefs are stereotypes, and they often spill over into prejudice. The stronger your attitudes become, the less likely you are to rethink them.
Rivalries aren’t unique to sports. A rivalry exists whenever we reserve special animosity for a group we see as competing with us for resources or threatening our identities. In business, the rivalry between footwear companies Puma and Adidas was so intense that for generations, families self-segregated based on their allegiance to the brands—they went to different bakeries, pubs, and shops, and even refused to date people who worked for the rival firm.
In politics, you probably know some Democrats who view Republicans as being greedy, ignorant, heartless cretins, and some Republicans who regard Democrats as lazy, dishonest, hypersensitive snowflakes. As stereotypes stick and prejudice deepens, we don’t just identify with our own group; we dis-identify with our adversaries, coming to define who we are by what we’re not. We don’t just preach virtues of our side; we find self-worth in prosecuting the vices of our rivals.
When people hold prejudice toward a rival group, they’re often willing to do whatever it takes to elevate their own group and undermine their rivals—even if it means doing harm or doing wrong. We see people cross those lines regularly in sports rivalries. “Diminishing Prejudice by Destabilizing Stereotypes” from Think Again by Adam Grant
You can tell I am Australian because I couldn’t find a graphic about Australian stereotypes that didn’t make me cringe
Think Again reveals that we don’t have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It’s an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.
Reading the Foundation for Young Australians latest report – The Missing Young People in Australian News Media it is clear it is pretty profound what our teachers do, helping the young people they teach realize that they have more potential and skill than the world tells them that they do.
A Picture You in Agriculture we think a lot about the hopes and dreams of young Australians. We want to understand their frustrations and we invest our time in helping them change the culture.
As agents of change we see part of our role is to consistently help the idea spread from person to person, engaging a tribe as you make change happen.
To paraphrase the Boss (showing my age) we work with the teachers and students to determine
“What is the work for us to do in our short time together?”
One thing we can do at Picture You in Agriculture is help change the way young people view the world of work.
As a result of COVID there is up to 100,000 more young Australians between the ages of 15 and 24 not in employment, education or training and 60% of young Australians are not confident they can get a job or have the right skills to get a job
Building young people’s confidence starts in our homes and in our schools. Research tells us that young people going from primary to secondary school have closed their minds to up to 70% of the current careers available let alone be thinking about the careers that will exist in ten years’ time that don’t exist today
To open their eyes to the diversity of careers in the agriculture sector over the next three weeks our Kreative Koala kids will get the opportunity to meet 15 of our Young Farming Champions who will be zooming into their classrooms
Knowing how much impact our Young Farming Champions have on young peoples perceptions of careers in agriculture I am looking forward to hearing the stories
Word on the street is there is no shortage of people who agree with him.
Now that Terry has opened Pandora’s Box – What next
My experiences have shown me the Australian dairy industry ( at all levels) has spent so much time perfecting the drama triangle it has no concept of what its world would look like without it
As Lucy and MBS have highlighted the agricultural landscape isn’t alone in favouring the drama triangle over the TED model. We all can default to this culture when its the predominate culture. How do we reframe the toxic negativity? How do we help victims become creators, persecutors become challengers and rescuers become coaches ?
When boiling the ocean isn’t an option perhaps dairy might like to take a leaf out of the NSW Local Land Services model and provide extensive personal and professional development for their team members to be resilient to the negativity and help farmers who are entrenched in persecutor or victim mode to have outcomes focused conversations.
What can we do?
We can all boil our own glass of water by learning to recognise Drama Triangle patterns and call them out
Great example from Unions NSW today on Twitter. Sounds like some-one is feeling undervalued. Classic mix of Victim/Rescuer and maybe even a little bit of persecutor/finger pointing thrown in for effect.