Clash of purpose

Therese
Rein
has decided to sell
the Australian arm
of Ingeus
– the business she has built
up
from herself
and a part time assistant to a multi-million dollar company employing over 1400
people over the past twenty years

I hesitate to mention that Rein is married to Australian opposition leader Kevin
Rudd
because if you google "Therese Rein Ingeus", you will scroll
a long way before finding a link that does not mention this fact. This despite
the observation that Rein is a successful business person in her own right.

It’s hard to find details about Rein on the internet because there is so much
comment on her latest decision and the
events leading up to it.

My angle in this story is the clash of purposes rather than the conflict of
interests. Before making her decision, Rein passionately spoke of how her work
was much more than a business but was her life
support
. She passionately believes in what she does – helping disadvantaged
people find work – and no-one seems to suggest that she doesn’t do it well.

But what happens when two people are tied together and their purposes clash?
I am often asked this question in terms of leadership teams. What happens when
the members of the team have different purposes (this is often expressed as
‘agendas’)?

This is a difficult question. I don’t have an easy answer because there is
no easy answer. However, somewhere, I believe the answer lies in the higher
purpose that ties the people together. In the case of Rudd and Rein, him becoming
Prime Minister does not directly affect her business. But her remaining in
her (at least Australian) business does affect Rudd’s ability to do his job
if he becomes PM. What is the higher purpose? Only the people involved can
answer that. In politics, it is often the politician who wins out and the politician
is usually a man. I wonder how it would have been if it was a woman running
for PM and her husband was running a successful business?

Regardless, it is the difficult task of those involved to find their higher
purpose. In many cases, this leads to each individual finding their deeper
purpose.

Feedback on this blog

Due to an overwhelming amount of comment spam, I have changed the restrictions on commenting.

If you do want to comment you will find you now have to log in via Typekey.

It only takes a moment to get a Typekey account and you can use the same account
for any blog powered by Moveable Type.

After just deleting nearly 1000 trackbacks, I have also disabled this feature.

I will try to change this in the future, but for the moment, this is the way it will have to be.

As with many of us, when we started blogging we spent lots of time setting up our blogs. Now the reality of the amount of time maintenance takes has set in. I don’t spend nearly as much time as I would like blogging, I don’t want to be spending large amounts of the time I do have on maintenance.

Changed Perspectives

It’s amazing how a seemingly small event can so profoundly change your perspective.

Two events have had this impact on me in the past week.

The one that made me think about this post was actually the second event –
the resignation
of Margaret Jackson as chairman of the Qantas board
. I have had deep
qualms
about the APA
private equity takeover offer
for Qantas.
My initial reaction to Jackson’s
press comments
was cynical. She stood to make a substantial personal gain
if the bid succeeded. How could she avoid a conflict of interest I thought?
I took some perverse enjoyment from the collapse
of the bid
. I don’t like the arrogance of Private Equity much and it worries
me that a consortium like that can have such a huge impact on people’s lives.

But when Jackson announced her resignation, I felt sorry for her. Margaret
Jackson
is recognised as one of, if not the, leading business women in
Australia. She has been on the Qantas board for fifteen years and chairman
for seven. When the bid was announced she would have to have thrown the dice.
Would she throw her weight behind the bid (with the personal cudos and financial
reward she would receive if it succeeded) or would she fight it. I don’t
know how long she agonised over this decision, but it could not have been
automatic. There was never a guarantee the bid would succeed. In the end,
it sat on a knife edge and failed by the slimmest
of margins
. Had the late offer been accepted, or received by the deadline
she would have been seen as a master strategist, placing the airline in a
position for its next phase of growth.

As it is, she is seen to have mishandled the whole affiar. In business, you
are either one or the other. A hero or a villain. Never a real person with
strenghts and weakness. With both doubts and courage.

The other event to spark my thinking about changed perspectives was the screening
earlier this week on ABC TV of the
drama series Bastard Boys
a fictionalised account of the 1998 Australian Waterfront
Dispute
. Nominally this was a dispute between the Maritime
Union of Australia (MUA)
, (led by John
Coombs)
and Patrick
Stevedores
(then owned by Chris
Corrigan
). This dispute was a seminal piece of Australian industrial relations
history about the power and place of unions on the one side and the right of
management to make changes to work practices on the other. The dispute involved
almost everyone of note in industrial relations in Australia at the time, including Peter
Reith
(Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business)
in the Howard
Government
; Greg
Combet
(then Assistant Secretary of the ACTU)
and Bill
Kelty
(the Secretary of the ACTU).

At the time, those of us on the left were horrified by Corrigan’s tactics
(backed by Reith) of sacking his whole workforce, putting balaclava clad security
guards with guard dogs around the docks and bringing in a non-unionised workforce
trained in Dubai.

Having been brought up in a working class family, I still too readily see
bosses as the enemy and unions as on the side of good. Although I could see
there was obviously a desparate need for waterfront
reform
I felt Corrigan’s approach was beyond forgiveness. When Patrick
bought a share in Virgin Blue,
I considered not flying with the airline anymore.

Although, I have yet to watch the whole of the two episodes, Bastard Boys
jolted me out of my comfortable oversimplification of the issue. In particular,
it gave me a totally different view of Chris Corrigan – even though he
believes
he was misrepresented and charicatured by the series. I realised
that like Margaret Jackson, Chris Corrigan was a real person. In his case he
had invested all he had in Patrick and his own livelihood was on the line.
It took me another step along the path in realising just how much my childhood
view of unions as the good guys was also an unreal representation of the truth.
Yes, wharfies had been treated badly in the past and the MUA had won protection
for them. But the reality was that we needed new work practices on the waterfront
and the unions were using bully boy tactics as well.

My own message to Chris Corrigan is to take heart from the series. No you
weren’t portrayed exactly as you would have portrayed yourself. But from the
perspective of a deyed in the wool leftie like me, it made you a real person
to me.

Another changed perspective.

,

Avoiding Boring Meetings

Leon Gettler has a good piece on meetings here.
The trouble with meetings is not meetings themselves but the people who attend them. None of us say what we really think.
Although how we create an environment in which it is OK to say what we think is another matter. Now that sounds like something I would like to write about.

Lucky Entrepreneurs

What type of person makes a good entrepreneur?

I am currently a student at the Australian
Graduate School of Entrepreneurship
. It won’t suprise you to know that
we spent one semester studying Entrepreneurship
and Innovation
. One of the big questions of the seminar subject was the
one I posed at the beginning of this post, as well as the related question
"How can we tell if an entrepreneurial venture will be successful?"

I value the research that has been carried out in this area, but I wonder
about the questions. How do you define success anyway? Even if we agree on
what success is, can we really tell what made a venture successful and what
characteristics of the entrepreneur made it so? In the popular press, we look
at "successful" entrepreneurs like Richard
Branson
. How do we know that for every Richard Branson, there are a thousand
people out there with exactly the same mindset, the same life experience, the
same outloook on risk taking and venture formation who have eitther tried and
failed or never tried at all.

All of that is to assume that you can take two people and say on these range
of measures they are the same. Who is to know that the single most important
measure is the one you left out. Of course just like no two people have the
same fingerprint, no two people are exactly alike. So what’s the point of trying
to find what makes and entrepreneur?

I seriously considerr the possibility that it is all a mattter of luck. The
right person in the right place at the right time with the right idea and with
the right lucky breaks.

I was prompted to write by this piece [sorry can't login to afr.com to provide
a link — It was the main Leadership piece in the May 3-9, 2007 issue] in BRW.

Kevin
Hindle
is commenting on the 2006 Global
Entrepreneurship Monitor
which, according to the article, found that

Australia is still very much a ‘milk-bar economy’: a nation of small business
owners whose ambitions are limited.

James Womack goes on to say

You’ve got one guy, and the product concept is between his or her ears — no marketing
system, no no supply base, no media, no apparatus, nothing. It is esier to do
it right when you begin with than it is to rework it into right once you are
a way along."

The article then suggests:

A common failing is neglecting to define the business’s purpose.
Womack says most managers say the purpose of the business is to make money, which
is not an observation that leads to action.

The Spiral Path is dedicated to guiding people to think not so much what the
purpose of the business is, but what their own purpose is in starting and running
the business. These two are related but not the same.

Churchill’s never give-in speech

I have often retold the story of Winston Churchill visiting his old
school, Harrow during
the second world war.

According the story, the boys were told that Churchill, as Prime Minister
of Great Britain was a very wise man and they should listen very carefully
to what he would tell them. The were ushered into the school hall and
sat ready to hear to words of the great man.

At the appropriate time in the assembly, Churchill was introduced
to the boys. He stood up solemnly, looked at the boys and said “Never
give in, never give in, never, never, never, never give in.”

I was sure I first heard this story reading Martin
Gilbert’s
work
Winston
S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941.

I will have to go and re-read Gilbert’s book because according to The
Churchill Centre
, Churchill actually gave a much
longer speech
.

(Updated Churchill link 4/4/2010)

65 Roses Day Volunteers

I just received this email from Cystic
Fibrosis Victoria
:

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:navy'>CAN YOU = HELP?

style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:Arial'>We would love the support of volunteers to help us = promote
National Awareness of cystic fibrosis on 65 Roses Day, Friday May
= 25.

  • face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>We need volunteers to = help
    at 14 locations around the CBD to sell merchandise
  • face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Roadside collectors to = assist
    at 3 main intersections in

    w:st=3D"on">
    Melbourne at St Kilda, Elsternwick & Toorak
  • face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Shifts are between 8am =
    -
    11am & 3pm – 6pm.
  • face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>All proceeds will be = donated
    to research to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis
  • face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Training will be = provided
    if volunteers are available on Tuesday May 22 from 3-4pm & 6-7pm
    = in the lead up to the event
  • If you would like to sell 65 Roses Day merchandise
    in your own network please contact the office for an order form

Please call CFV on 03 9686 1811

  • size=3D2
    face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;
    font-weight:bold'>If you would like to sell 65 Roses Day = merchandise in
    your own network please contact the office for an order = form

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:navy'>P
face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial'>lease call CFV on 03 9686 = 1811

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:blue'>Cystic Fibrosis
w:st=3D"on">
w:st=3D"on">
Victoria


w:st=3D"on">
color=3Dblue face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;
color:blue'>80 Dodds = Street
size=3D2 color=3Dblue face=3DArial> style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;
color:blue'>

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:blue'>SOUTHBANK VIC = 3006

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:blue'>Ph:   +613 9686 = 1811 

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:blue'>Fax:  +613 9686 = 3437

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:blue'>Email: = njessop@cfv.org.au

style=3D'font-size:
10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:blue'>Website: href=3D"http://www.cfv.org.au/">www.cfv.org.au