The new federal government has been remarkably silent on the state of the economy since winning office. I suspect most Australian business leaders are now simply relieved that the relentless media reports of “economic crisis” have ceased, and are thankful that the quotes are now being turned back, both economically and nautically.
The year 2013 has been another tough year of transition for many retailers, with major Australian retailers such as Billabong, Lisa Ho, and Payless Shoes all paying a high price for poor management decisions. The rising volume and value of e-commerce transactions has started to impact the retail property landscape, and promises structural change and pain for many retail property owners.
The multi-national taxation minimisation issue is already monumental. Politicians of all stripes are going to need corporate scapegoats to deflect inevitable community anger. Now is the time for corporate leaders to rebalance the risks they are taking with their tax affairs.
Fostering a culture of innovation within an organisation is a complex long term project. If there is little opportunity to quickly adapt products, change workflows, or respond to a weekly flow of insights, then there will be little return from a Big Data investment.
Providing services in remote regions of Australia is likely to become even more problematic as the population ages. Government needs to go through the same transition that banking did in the 80s and 90s, which saw the large scale closure of branches, and the shift to ATMs and online transactions. But it will be interesting to see whether politicians compromise their desire to improve public sector efficiency, when faced with the prospect of government job cuts within their own electorates.
Developing programs to encourage service delivery innovation, update workforce skills, and adopt more teleworking should be high on the agenda for public sector leaders. While political wrangling is likely to make the task harder, budget realities will soon force stark choices for public sector leaders and politicians alike.
Whether it is business or politics, the issues are the same. Leaders who are able to learn from their mistakes and publicly accept responsibility for their failings, are more likely to build a strong support base. Success often attracts followers, but the occasional failure can be used by a leader as an opportunity to deepen and strengthen the relationship
Rory is a Partner at Grant Thornton, leading their Business Transformation
consulting practice in Sydney. His specialties are business strategy,
performance improvement, and transformational change. Follow him on Twitter
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