Sir Nicholas Winton: saviour, people smuggler, hero?

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The sad news of the death of a great and humble man came out overnight:

“Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps, has died aged 106.

Sir Nicholas, then a stockbroker, arranged for trains to carry Jewish children out of occupied Prague.

Via BBC

He, like others during the 1930s and World War Two period, took action at great personal risk to aid refugees in fleeing persecution by the Nazis.  And he did this at a time when countries all around the world were rejecting Jewish refugees and returning them to persecution.

People of all stations in life assisted Jewish refugees. Even HRH Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice, gave refuge to a Jewish family in her own home in Athens during the war at great personal risk.

I honour Sir Nicholas and people like him who faced up to a great moral challenge and who took action. They are heroes and deserve our admiration.

The experiences of those persecuted by the Nazis in World War Two led to the establishment of the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention.

This Convention established the principle that people might seek refuge when facing “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular group, or political opinion. ”

Yet today people, like Sir Nicholas, who seek to assist refugees in fleeing persecution would be called people smugglers.

Australia seeks to reject asylum seekers who arrive by sea and has even established a punitive internment camp regime as part of a series of deterrent measures.

It is interesting to consider Australia’s response to asylum seekers and refugees in the light of the following definition of ‘concentration camp’:

“The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy. ”

Via Holocaust Encyclopedia

With refugees and asylum seekers today we seem to be repeating the sins of our forebears. This is a tragedy for the human beings who are suffering, and for our national conscience in the face of this moral challenge.

It is clear that local solutions will not suffice and that coordinated measures are the necessary and humane requirement.

 

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Mobile and social media – what it means for business

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Mobile and social media have created a new business landscape

If you’re not already working out how to disrupt your business and your industry then you will be disrupted…

The web 2.0 revolution and social media changed the game for business. At a basic level brands discovered the notion of customer ‘conversations’. But for the most part this was not  strategic, rather it often consisted of random tactical efforts.

It is amusing to see that even in 2015 many brands are only just now discovering the notion of metrics and measuring their online activity:

“…many brands moving towards measuring audience impressions, clicks, and thinking cross-platform”

Tania Yuki , Shareablee CEO and Founder

Then we often hear statistics like this:

“…Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.”

The real question to ask about all statistics like this is “so what?” What does that engagement translate to as business outcomes?

“There is no ROI in anything if you don’t learn how to use it.”

– Gary Vaynerchuk, Founder VaynerMedia

The simple fact is that hardly anyone is driving direct revenue from social media, and many businesses are not optimized to sell via mobile. And the big question for businesses is what is the goal for their social and mobile activity?

But now all business online presence must be mobile friendly – Google and customers will punish businesses that do not embrace this. Increasingly users are accessing digital  content via mobile devices, and this means that businesses need to ensure a good quality experience.

Social media was only phase 1

Social media was phase one of the new digital revolution, next coming is the collaborative economy and internet of things ( IoT).

The present of social is mobile. The future of mobile is IoT and wearables. and these offer huge  monetization opportunities:

Cisco [former] CEO John Chambers Values Internet of Things at $19T #CES2014

People

People, both customers and staff, now have a default position that assumes access to any resources they want. And they want it online, on demand, real-time, anywhere, and on any device they choose.

This is all part of the democratisation of communication enabled by the digital revolution. It leads to an inversion of power relationships and puts the means of production for communication in the hands of the populace.

It leads to opportunities and growth in peer-to-peer and mobile. Kevin Kelly sums it up nicely as:

“…a shift towards the individual as the centre of a network of relationships mediated and enabled by technology…”

The shift is from customer channels to a customer continuum mediated by social and mobile.

This means that businesses need to connect social media activity to purchasing activity, they need to make it work on mobile and tablet. And it must be friction-less.

Changes to team and organisation structure

In a fast moving context like this command-control management is dead. This is because the operational tempo of a digital business is not days or weeks or months; it is minutes and seconds.

To support this shift in operational tempo we need employees with skills to work in a social or collaborative context. We need team members who can deal with ambiguity and a fast pace.

To support customers who do not have patience with internal silos businesses need to move towards integrated teams. This means using ideas like DevOps and agile to support cross-functional teams to meet customer needs and deliver across organisational silos. To achieve this all parts of the business will need to bring together expertise:

  • Tech
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Operations
  • Customer service

Workforce changes mean that new ways of working will emerge, such as co-working and collaboration. These will lead to increased decentralisation of the workforce and be accompanied by much shorter change cycles.

And these changes will all lead to issues with boundaries between public and private; between personal and business. With this blurring between roles it will be increasingly difficult to establish role clarity. And this means that team members need to be able to manage through ambiguity and across functional lines.

Risk and governance

In the fast-paced world of digital business we still need to consider how to manage risk and how to enact effective governance.  Some factors to consider in this regard include:

  • Monitor your business online
  • Assign responsibility for online channels
  • Include social & mobile in digital strategy
  • Link digital strategy to marketing strategy
  • Ensure cross media planning in place
  • Develop mechanisms to track progress
  • Create and manage loosely connected networks
  • Grow a business in a networked world
  • Engage people and garner advocates for your business
  • Focus outward while protecting your brand

Top 10 checklist for digital business

  1. Digital strategy: is just part of it, includes websites, email marketing, etc.
  2. Tactical plans: For implementation of campaigns
  3. Resource plan: Social is not free, it needs people and tools
  4. Tools: Required to enable management, tracking and monitoring
  5. Metrics: Need to be decided prior to implementation to enable effective reporting
  6. ROI: Need to track investment and results
  7. Reporting: For good governance
  8. Roles & responsibilities: Defined and clear to all parties, in particular governance + cross-functional teams
  9. Cross media plan: Integration with other digital and marketing activities
  10. Risk management: Includes social media policies and procedures and crisis management process
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LinkedIn and the power of networks

it's not the students that keep us young, it's all the stairs
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it's not the students that keep us young, it's all the stairs

I used to think of LinkedIn as a boring but worthy social network for business contacts. But I was wrong.

Over the years it has become a critical B2B social network, with multi-million dollar deals often being done via the platform.

LinkedIn has also disrupted the recruitment business and reshaped the way people find jobs. It changed the power dynamic in recruitment by enabling the jobs to find people. Clever recruiters embraced LinkedIn early. The rest clung to their clunky old proprietary resume databases.

With the recent acquisition of Lynda.com, the reach of LinkedIn looks like growing into training and education. This is a more interesting play than MOOCs from an education perspective.

Remembering my LinkedIn story

Last night I caught up with a longstanding buddy, Des Walsh, as he visited Sydney. Des is a doyen of social media in Australia, as well as being a passionate networker and executive coach.

As we chatted I finally remembered to tell him the story of how one of his ideas helped me to get a great job.

LinkedIn ’30 day blitz’

Back in late 2012 Des contacted a diverse bunch of folks who were active on social media, noting that LinkedIn was our ‘orphan’ social network. He was right, most of us were enamoured with other sexier social media platforms. We were all members of LinkedIn, but at that time none of us were particularly active there, nor were our profiles up to date.

Des setup a social network challenge for November 2012, rounding up a diverse group to take part in a month of LinkedIn activity.

The concept was simple – “A collaborative project, in which each participant commits to take action on his/her LinkedIn presence and activity, over a 30 day period.” – 30 Day Linking Blitz.

I signed up for the blitz, and started with updating my LinkedIn profile with previous work and a decent profile picture.

The results were immediate

Almost immediately after that I was contacted by a recruiter. The recruiter had been trying for almost a year to find a candidate for a role that called for a diverse mix of skills. She explained that my name had popped up in her LinkedIn search that morning.

The rest is history. I interviewed for the role at UNSW Australia, where I’ve been working happily since then. All thanks to Des and his 30 Day LinkedIn Blitz.

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Leaders, problems, and action

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“We measure a leader, not by the absence of problems, but how he or she confronts those problems and takes action.”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

There has been a long and largely unprofitable debate in management circles about the difference between management and leadership. Over the years I have come to a realisation that management and leadership are inextricably linked and that they are defined by actions.

In the long run it does not matter what is said. The finest words pale into insignificance beside our actions. What we do defines us.

The true test of leadership is when problems arise. And the actions taken by the leader in response to problems are the measure of their leadership.

The leader needs to embody the values espoused by the organisation. The actions taken by the leader enable their teams to see how they too can respond to problems facing the organisation.

Good management goes hand in hand with good leadership, and it is how efficient and effective processes are put in place to support the business, its customers, and its staff.

Too often we see a combination of poor leadership with an absence of good management. This makes for an organisation with unhappy customers that is a horrible place to work.

And it is easily changed. Good leadership and good management will fix it. It can be surprising how quickly appointing an effective manager can turn a dysfunctional team into a functioning team. And to effect this change it is often how the leader confronts the challenges facing the team that causes a cascade of behavioural change among the team.

A good leader is a catalyst for new ways of being and of thinking for the team. As mentioned previously, the good leader embodies new ways for the team to be and gives them permission to act differently.

As managers we must give sincere thought to our role as leaders. We are the ones who set the tone for the team. For good or ill, leaders set the scene and signal the boundaries of acceptable and desirable behaviour.

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Annual Global CIO Survey 2014

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The annual Harvey Nash CIO Survey launched in Sydney in early December 2014.

Think differentlyThis is a long running CIO survey with responses from more than 3,200 CIOs and technology leaders globally.

It was interesting to join the panel at this event for a lively discussion of technology and business related matters.

My fellow panelists were:

We had a wide-ranging discussion including: big data (and its friend little data); the importance of good alignment between IT and marketing for the business; and the need for a new kind of IT that is freed up from legacy systems and closely aligned to the business.

Some of the comments are documented here.

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Why privacy on the internet of things doesn’t scare me

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The debate about the internet of things often centres on privacy, but here is why privacy on the internet of things doesn’t scare me as much as digital rights management.

I tend to suspect that issues relating to privacy on the internet of things will be sorted out as a result of consumer and government expectations enshrined in privacy regulations.

A key capability that is enabled by the internet of things is that vendors can keep charging us for services related to their device. One reason why businesses are so excited by the internet of things is it allows them to move from selling a device as a one-off sale and towards ongoing fees for services associated with that device.

This phenomenon will enable internet of things companies to increase their revenue streams and to drive sales of additional services. Thus the value of an internet of things device is not so much in the hardware as in the software and services.

Take the pacemaker as an example. If you have a pacemaker installed and the vendor decides to charge a monthly service fee to keep the device going, what happens if you miss a payment? If the vendor has, very sensibly, implemented digital rights management on your pacemaker service then they will be able to turn it off if you miss a few payments.

If this sounds far fetched, it’s not, it is already here. Last December I test drove a new electric car, the Renault Zoe, at a conference in Paris. This car has implemented digital rights management.

If you do not pay the ongoing rental fee on the battery for your Renault Zoe then you will not be allowed to recharge the battery.

Also, chipmaker FTDI,whose chips are found in many consumer electronics products, recently announced that they will kill third party chips remotely via driver updates. This will likely render useless the devices that consumers have purchased in good faith which have counterfeit chips installed.

This is why digital rights management scares me more than privacy in the brave new world of the internet of things.

Welcome to the digital revolution and our networked future.

 

 

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Internet of things, data security and privacy

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I’ve been attending the 36th International Conference of Privacy and Data Commissioners in Mauritius, presenting on the Internet of Things (IoT) privacy and security to the attendees.

Kate Carruthers
Pic of Kate Carruthers by John Edwards, NZ Privacy Commissioner

It has made me very conscious of the tension between privacy/security and the drive to bring products to market quickly.

Further, it seems that the challenges of data protection have not been fully considered for many Internet of Things products and services.

An important realisation has been that we are building the Internet of Things on the somewhat rickety security foundations provided by the existing internet. We face a situation where many devices cannot apply security patches because source code is not available.

Finding way to build a safer and more secure Internet of Things and to ensure that we do not increase risk for business and consumers is critical.

An interesting approach to privacy is that taken by the Apple privacy team, who had some people in attendance at the conference. Their inclusion of privacy engineers into development teams seems like a good approach. The idea of privacy by design seems like a useful and pragmatic way to ensure that privacy is not a mere afterthought in the design and product engineering process.

Will post my slides on SlideShare shortly.

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Politics of Social – Social Media Week Sydney 2014

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As part of Social Media Week Sydney 2014 I was honoured to host a panel discussion about the Politics of Social.

The panel made for a lively and interesting chat – wish we could have had more time as there was much more to discuss!

Panel Members

  • Ariadne Vromen – Associate Professor, The University of Sydney
  • Alex Greenwich – Independent Member for Sydney, Parliament of NSW
  • Stilgherrian – Journalist, Commentator, Producer, Podcaster
  • Steph Harmon – Managing Editor , Junkee at The Sound Alliance

Ariadne Vromen  Alex Greenwich
Stilgherrian Steph Harmon.

Here’s the video of our discussion…

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Australia, the gender pay gap, and everyday sexism

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Sexism made explicit

In the past it was easier to not notice the everyday sexism and misogyny that permeates life in Australia. But with the advent of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister it seemed that it was permitted to openly denigrate women.

It shocked me. It was breathtaking. I spent the entire Gillard regime gobsmacked at what people, mostly men, felt that it okay to say in public about women, or about a woman.

Those same things would have been unlikely to be uttered aloud if one replaced the notion of a woman with that of a race.

I, along with many other women, cheered when Gillard make her famed anti-misogyny speech in Parliament. She said what many of us felt. We didn’t care what precipitated her speech, it articulated our feelings.

Former Prime Minister, John Howard, said recently that Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech was ‘nonsense’. Yet another man rejecting the reporting lived experience of a woman. And research indicates that sexist attacks – sexist language, gender-based name calling – in the media damages women political candidates.

Calling out sexism makes women a target

Sexism and misogyny remain part of the everyday experience of women everywhere. To call this out often makes women the targets of vile attacks.

Anita Sarkeesian knows all about what happens when women call out sexism online – call out sexism and get attacked by cyber-mobs. Or as Caroline Criado-Perez discovered, just ask for some women to be put onto your national bank notes and you can expect to receive rape and death threats.

Social media is an amplification medium for both good and ill.

Unequal pay – gender wage gap

It was no great surprise to hear a well known business man spell out his policy on hiring women in a recent talk. Evan Thornley spoke at Blackbird’s Sunrise startup event in Sydney week. He spoke about how he is able to hire women at lower rates than men. He illustrated this point with a slide titled:

“WOMEN. Like men, only cheaper”

Thornley has since backpadalled, saying he “stuffed up” in trying to say that there is a problem with women in technology that needs to be fixed.

But the fact that he said this, and demonstrated that he has used the information asymmetry between women and men in the labour market to pay lower rates to women, is an interesting thing to note.

If one were to replace the word “women” with a racial group the truly offensive nature of the original comments becomes apparent.

Jenna Price makes the useful point that this kind of thing is helpful as it “shines a light” on the issue.

As a woman in business it has been clear to me for many years that unconscious sexism is the enemy. Hardly anyone gets up in the morning and says “I’m off to work today to oppress women”. Instead it is a myriad of unconscious moments, such as assuming that women do not want to work on certain projects because they have children therefore not offering them the opportunity.

However, the important thing the Thornley revealed is the information asymmetry between women and men about market salaries. Because of the secrecy that attaches to what people get paid, women often do not realise how much more men doing the same work get paid.

It’s time for women to start asking colleagues how much they get paid, and then to start asking for the same.

Women, sexism, and negotiation

But this raises another issue. Women are often ill-equipped to negotiate on their own behalf and women who do negotiate for better wages and conditions are subject to sexist thinking, as Margaret A. Neale notes:

“If I negotiate for an increase in my salary, and I have a male boss, the research suggests that I will be penalized in a way that my male counterparts will not be. If I have a female boss, she’s going to penalize both males and females, so it’s not like I get any benefit for working with a woman.”

I’m grateful to Mr Thornley for raising the important issue of the gender wage gap. It’s tied up with other key issues about sexism and it’s time we got all of this onto the business agenda.
 

Online resources

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    Business plan – ultimate waste of time or absolute necessity? #startups

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    There is an enormous amount of information and advice about creating a business plan for one’s startup.

    The advice ranges from the necessity to prepare a traditional narrative form business plan document, to preparing a business model canvas, or using a business planning tool or app.

    There are even notions like the idea-less startup, where the team is formed before the startup idea comes together.

    No business plan at all is not a good idea

    While the consensus nowadays seems to be that shorter business plans are better, some folks even argue that preparing a business plan is a complete waste of time. Others who argue that business plans are a waste of time suggest:

    “Throw your business plan in the recycling bin. Instead, focus on your team and on getting to market as quickly as you can.”

    What a business needs to think about

    That notion of no business plan is all very well. But a new business does need to consider things that are traditionally covered in a business plan, such as:

    • Business purpose – the purpose for which the business exists (some like to include mission and/or vision); what makes the business and its products special or different
    • Markets in which the business will operate – including competitors, geography, since these inform operational matters such as logistics and distribution
    • Sales – how the business will make money, as Guy Kawasaki said recently during his visit to Canva in Sydney: “Sales fix everything“, also need to consider pricing and distribution
    • Business finances – funding sources, financial projections including operating costs and revenue; how the business will make money
    • Business structure – incorporation, board and directors
    • Management and ownership – who will manage the business operations, who owns what and what obligations are to be fulfilled
    • Key personnel – people required to run the business, either contract or staff positions
    • Products or services, innovation, and intellectual property – including how the product will be developed and brought to market
    • Insurance and risk management
    • Legal considerations
    • Business operations – how the business will manage production, logistics, distribution, customer service, sales, accounting, bookkeeping, statutory requirements, etc

    If these types of information are not written down it is hard to ensure that all participants share a common understanding.

    Quick approaches to business planning

    My approach to business planning is to do it in stages, with each stage focused on checking the team’s current understanding of key issues, risks, and obtaining agreement as to sensible next steps.

    Lean business model canvas

    A good way to start the planning process is to use a lean business model canvas to get the team thinking about the key issues for the business. If the team cannot answer the questions posed in this document then it is a clear risk signifier for the project.

    Once agreement is reached on the high level information in the lean business canvas it is a good checkpoint for the team. The canvas also provides a helpful artefact for sharing with potential collaborators and investors. It is a useful way to assess the viability of the business idea.

    More detailed planning

    For the preparation of the next level of detailed business plan I had traditionally used the narrative form document with charts and tables. However, recently Avis Mulhall put me onto a business planning tool called Live Plan. I’m now a total convert to this approach (please note that I have no affiliation with Live Plan, just find it a very handy tool).

    This kind of tool asks the right questions and enables the team to prepare a good looking presentation document that includes sensible categories of information.

    This more detailed plan provides another useful artefact for sharing with potential collaborators and investors.

    Quick business planning

    For a few startups I’m working with, the teams went through the entire planning process outlined above – including lean canvas and detailed business plan – in a single day.

    The business planning process does not have to be onerous.

    Business planning at its best

    At its best, business planning is about the team asking sensible questions about:

    • how the business will work,
    • how it will find and keep happy customers,
    • how it will make money,
    • how the risks will be mitigated,
    • and how the rewards for success will be shared among the founders and investors.
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