Beyond Mediocrity

September 10th, 2012 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Innovation | Personal Development

Having grown up in Australia and being exposed to its unique culture and beautiful environment one of the disappointing aspects has been the “fair go” mentality. From a legal and human rights perspective giving people a fair and safe environment to live in is extremely relevant and important. However, when we as Australians use the “fair go” or the “she’ll be right mate” mentality it unfortunately reduces our competitiveness to a playing field that is well below some international standards, thereby negatively influencing our attitudes and productivity. We begin to blame the system or someone else, instead of taking responsibility and massive action to change the current situation.

When one of my children states, “It isn’t fair Dad!”, I reply with, “Yes you are right, because life and business is not fair, but highly competitive”. If our sporting heroes and teams adopted a “fair go” or “she’ll be right mate” mentality, Australia would not have been so successful in many of its sporting achievements. Business and work life is no different, therefore we need to have the passion and the desire to succeed in a very competitive global arena.

One of the drivers of productivity is innovation and I don’t mean just research and development, although this is a very important component of the innovation ecosystem. Innovation in the sense of the practical application of new and creative ideas to generate value in the market, either through, new products and services, processes, organisational systems or novel business models, can provide competitive advantage for an organisation and stimulate increased productivity. A good example is reflected in traditional manufacturing firms that adopt innovative practices through design integration, business model transformation or simply adopting advanced manufacturing concepts, such as additive manufacturing or systems integration, that can differentiate themselves in the market place, increase productivity and transform into a high performance organisation.

Australia’s recent productivity metrics have been well below international levels, continuing to deteriorate despite the mining boom. The deteriorating trends can be confirmed in the recent article “Australia’s Productivity Performance and Real Incomes“. Many sectors, in particular retail and manufacturing have been suffering in the current economic environment.

It is important to note that the majority of productivity improvements can only be made as a result of management decisions and strategies implemented in firms. Public policy can also play an important role in improving Australia’s productivity, particularly in areas of regulation reform, taxation reform, public spending and skills development. Australia is already the third highest cost environment for businesses in the world and with diminishing productivity this can only get worse for Australian businesses.

I believe innovation is the key to improving productivity in Australia. Innovation can create higher value products and services, improve production process efficiency, design new business models, and differentiate firms in the global market. There is no doubt we have to work harder, but more importantly work smarter to improve productivity efficiency. Having a “fair go” or a “she’ll be right mate” attitude is not going to help Australian businesses become more competitive on the global arena.

Dr John Kapeleris

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