Liza van Wyk, Winter warmer breakfast, 3
Good morning all. The cold never seems to
feel as intense as when one is among
friends. Thank you for joining us this
We’ve received excellent feedback from those
who attend these breakfasts about what they
learn from our speakers, who are all AstroTech and Biz Tech trainers, and also the
value of this as a networking opportunity.
While contemplating this breakfast I
reflected on how differently we look at
notions of intelligence compared to our
When I was growing up, IQ was considered
very important. People who belonged to Mensa
were considered exceptional, they still are,
but what has become more important in our
shrinking, hi-tech, globalised world is not
just the ability to solve complex
mathematical equations or spell 12-letter
words, but the ability to communicate, to
motivate and to inspire those around us.
Liesl Gini will discuss emotional
I believe it is the key to innovation and
I’d like to reflect on innovation and new
management thinking. It is particularly
important now as we reflect on the lessons
we need to learn from the long strike in the
public sector and as many of us are involved
in wage rounds at present.
Real intelligence demands consideration.
A sustainable bottom line also depends on
how well we care for the physical and social
environment. It also means that instead of
trying to control staff, we need to train
them with the skills to work smarter and
AstroTech management trainer, Wayne Ford,
who facilitates a number of courses
including Management for New Managers, says
one should remember that workers have to
elect to strike, “if most are happy they
won’t vote to strike. But if valid concerns
need to be addressed, they will.”
Sometimes, he notes, strikes apparently
about wages disguise genuine concerns, “If
the canteen is filthy and food is poor and
management fail to address that, it could
underpin grievances. Identify the facilities
needed to improve a workplace and do it.”
He also says that, “appointing people to
positions they can’t cope with and not
giving them adequate training is another
area of significant stress.”
We and our staff have to be involved in
lives of ongoing learning.
Leigh Allardyce, a prominent labour lawyer
and facilitator in AstroTech’s Labour
Relations and Labour Law course recommends
that when going to the negotiating table it
is important that both sides have an open
mind. She cautions against absolutist
statements like “never”, “we will not” or
those famous words we often have to eat:
“out of the question.”
She advises employers to create
opportunities to move the process forward
instead of stopping it. And of course people
involved in negotiations should be properly
trained in negotiating tactics.
Professor Gary Hamel, director of the
Management Innovation Lab at the London
School of Business says managers need to
throw out top-down control and focus
entirely on making their staff, and
organisation, as innovative as possible.
Based on a study of businesses over the last
century, Hamel says large shifts in
competitive advantage are only delivered by
major innovations in the practice of
He says Apple's success with the iPod had
“very little to do with the product - it had
more to do with some very smart lawyers
inventing a new digital rights management
system and getting the entire music industry
to sign up to it."
And innovation does not happen in tight
Harmel says: "You need a process that
generates thousands of new ideas every
How do you do it?
He says by having a smart workplace that
feels free to innovate. He gives the example
of WL Gore, the maker of Gore-Tex waterproof
fabric and other industrial products. It has
no hierarchy or corporate titles.
Ten per cent of the staff are nominated as
leaders by their peers.
No one can order anyone else to do something
and every staff member spends 10 percent of
their time on a personal project.
Gore has demanding companies like Nike and
Procter & Gamble among its customers and has
had 50 years of increasing earnings.
Harmel says: "Big companies think if you let
people choose what they want to work on you
will have chaos. But people are pretty
smart. They know that companies are there to
make products and to satisfy customers, so
generally they choose to work on things that
Few no this better than Google. Larry Page,
a founder of Google advises: “having a
healthy disregard for the impossible.” He
says, “You should try to do things that most
people would not.”
At Google they have five star chefs churning
out organic, healthy meals for staff. Each
staff member has to spend 20 percent of paid
work time each week doing a project that has
nothing to do with their job – it can be
anything from skydiving to art lessons.
Within less than a decade of helping found
Google and barely past their 30th birthdays
the founders of Google were personally worth
A June edition of The Economist hailed Steve
Job’s Apple for its “inventiveness.” The
Economist said, “In polls of the world's
most innovative firms it consistently ranks
It lists four aspects of Apple’s success.
First: “Apple is an orchestrator and
integrator of technologies, unafraid to
bring in ideas from outside but always
adding its own twists…
“Second, Apple illustrates the importance of
designing new products around the needs of
the user, not the demands of the
technology.” Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But
I wonder how many of us blame inadequate
systems for not being able to do the job,
instead of strategically manipulating the
system to do the job for us.
Innovation is about creation. It’s about
deciding that the word “impossible” is a
construct of the lazy. If you want something
bad enough, you’ll make it happen. The only
one stopping you, is you.
The Economist notes too that “Listening to
customers is generally a good idea, but
smart companies sometimes ignore what the
market says it wants. The iPod was ridiculed
when it was launched in 2001, but Mr Jobs
stuck by his instinct. Nintendo has done
something similar with its popular
motion-controlled video-game console, the
Wii. Rather than designing a machine for
existing gamers, it gambled that non-gamers
represented an untapped market and devised a
machine with far broader appeal.
“The fourth lesson from Apple is to "fail
wisely"” Learn from your mistakes and try
again. AstroTech courses encourage you to
be aware of the mistakes of others and to
learn from them. Do not discard failure,
learn from it.
Remember that development of the individual
is how you keep a brand excellent.
And while helping develop your staff, you
too should be in a process of constant inner
evolution – take time too, to regularly pat
yourself on your back. Kim Kiyosaki in her
book, “Rich Woman” recommends “Acknowledge
yourself when you have successes.
AstroTech has had a string of successes
since it was formed less than a decade ago.
We’ve also tried to learn from failure – it
can be hard to swallow pride and
disappointment and go back and look at why
and how a “sure-thing” turned into failure.
At the moment we are growing so fast we are
spilling out of our offices and in the final
quarter of this year will relocate to
offices in Bedfordview. We will inform you
of the details closer to the time.
We believe a good part of our success is
consistently delivering better than we
listening carefully to feedback –
and celebrating regularly and learning from
you, our valued clients.
In the month ahead we launch an AstroTech
and Biz Tech radio advertising campaign on
Raido 702. Please let us know what you
We learn from your feedback.
But for now, thank you.
We hope the second half of this year sees
ongoing success for you, our companies and